Thursday, Sept. 9, 1999 | 11:26 a.m.
Seven construction workers were injured today when a 32-foot slab that was to be part of the second floor of the $175 million Suncoast hotel-casino collapsed in the pre-dawn hours, sending other workers scurrying for safety.
The 4:15 a.m. accident occurred as workers were pouring concrete 25-feet above the ground at the Alta Drive site just west of Rampart Boulevard in Summerlin.
Some of the injured workers on the second story rode the collapsing structure part way down and held on to the floor or scaffolding until help arrived, officials said. The slab, containing about 85 yards of wet, freshly poured concrete, was prevented from crashing to the ground by support pillars.
Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman Tim Szymanski said four of the injured workers were taken to the University Medical Center and three others to Summerlin hospital. He termed the injuries as minor, the worst being a whiplash-type injury to the neck and back.
The names of the injured were not immediately available for release.
"Workers told us they heard a creaking noise," Szymanski said, noting that neither a cause of the mishap nor a dollar damage had been determined. "They yelled for the others to run from underneath the building just before it collapsed."
Work was shut down for the rest of the day as Las Vegas city building and safety officials and representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were to begin their investigations later this morning.
"I was sick when I came out and saw what had happened," said Paul Gillett, superintendent for J. A. Tiberti Construction, general contractor for the project that began in early July. "We are grateful that the injuries were minor. It absolutely could have been worse."
Gillett said it was hoped that work would resume Friday on the luxury resort that has a projected opening of next autumn. He said it is too early to tell if the project's opening would have to be delayed because of the collapse.
Gillett said the support columns remained intact, but the concrete slab in the area where the collapse occurred will have to be knocked down and repoured.
Gillett said laborers and other trades workers came on the job at 3 a.m. At the time of the accident about a dozen workers were at or around the site of the collapse in the southwest corner of the structure where the 10-story hotel tower is being built.
Although construction normally goes on at the site during daylight hours, concrete is poured in the early morning so that workers can avoid the blistering 90-degree-plus heat of the day, Gillett said.
After the collapse, two uninjured workers were caught on a second-story ledge with all escape routes cut off.
"They were going to try to climb down the scaffolding but we told them to stay there and brought the ladder truck around," Szymanski said. "They climbed down the ladder on their own."
This was the first time the Las Vegas Fire Department had to respond to the Suncoast construction site on an emergency call, Szymanski said.
The Suncoast is the fourth -- and is proposed to be the most upscale -- of local hotels built by Coast Resorts Inc.
It is a Mediterranean-themed resort that will have 216 rooms, a 78,000-square-foot casino, at least five restaurants, a 64-lane bowling center and a 16-screen Century Theater movie complex.
When completed, the Suncoast will have 2,100 slot machines, 48 table games, a 150-seat race and sports book, a 600-seat bingo hall and Summerlin's first large-scale entertainment venue in the form of a 600-seat showroom.
Suncoast plans to hire about 1,800 hotel and casino workers.
The chairman and controlling shareholder of the resort is longtime Las Vegas gaming figure Michael Gaughan. The Suncoast will be situated on 50 acres, about a quarter-mile from the new Resort at Summerlin hotel-casino.
Other Coast gaming properties are The Orleans, Barbary Coast and Gold Coast.