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Bodies of 2 construction workers trapped in destroyed Hard Rock expected to be removed 'soon'

July 15, 2020 - 4:43 pm
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BY: ELLA TORRES, ABC NEWS

(NEW ORLEANS) — Nine months after a Hard Rock Hotel in downtown New Orleans partially collapsed and killed three construction workers, the bodies of two who had been trapped inside will soon be removed, officials said.

The remains of Quinnyon Wimberly, 36, and Jose Ponce Arreola, 63, have been inside the wreckage since the hotel collapsed on Oct. 12, 2019. Officials had not been able to safely reach their bodies.

This week, New Orleans council member-at-large Helena Moreno released a statement saying the bodies would "soon be removed from the wreckage.”

"For the families of these men, I can offer my deepest sympathies - not just for the loss of their loved ones, but the prolonged and public nature of their temporary resting places," Moreno said on Monday. "This tragedy should never have happened, and it has taken far too long to be able to deliver dignity to these men who unfairly perished due to the terrible mistakes and misdeeds of others."

The family of Wimberly previously told ABC News that crews would have to demolish the building before reaching his body; however, it seems crews are now hoping to reach his body before demolishing the building.

A timeline for the removal was not immediately clear and officials did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The Times-Picayune reported that recovery workers were expected to reach the bodies by either the end of this week or early next week. Crew members had already begun working at the scene earlier this week to remove certain construction materials from the site.

The body of one construction worker has already been recovered.

An official cause for the collapse has not been made public, but numerous lawsuits against the five construction companies involved alleged negligence.

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