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1 Dead, 1 Hurt After Internal Building Collapse In Maplewood

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MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A construction worker was killed and another seriously injured after an internal building collapse at a restaurant in Maplewood, N.J.

As WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported, the collapse happened Friday morning at the Coda Kitchen and Bar on Maplewood Avenue.

One person, identified as Guo Tai Chen, was killed in the collapse. Another worker sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.

“There were two other people in the building. There was another construction worker and there was a restaurant manager,” said Maplewood Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt.

Dingelstedt said while those two were able to get out safely, the two victims were in the basement when part of the first floor crumbled onto them.

Crews were installing a staircase inside the restaurant when the stairs and part of the floor gave way.

“Basically, what they were doing is building stairs down to the basement from inside the restaurant,” Maplewood resident Lee Navlen said. “They have to go outside to get to the basement, so it’s been a big construction job.”

The collapse happened in a spot between the dining area and the kitchen.

“The first floor collapsed into the basement,” Maplewood Fire Deputy Chief Joseph Callaghan said. “He was trapped under wooden beams and there was a side collapse from the walls which were rock and dirt.”

Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca said the building was structurally sound, but has been condemned until repairs are done and local inspectors give it the green light to reopen.

“Our hearts go out to the families,” DeLuca said. “This is a person who went to work today expecting to come home tonight and they’re not gonna be there.”

The restaurant’s attorney said the owner was “shaken up about the whole thing.”

Town officials said the restaurant had all the proper permits for the job being worked on.

Nearby businesses were also evacuated. The exact cause of the collapse is under investigation.

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