Waterville Apartment Roof Collapse Remains Under Investigation

Three workers were injured when the trusses of a three-story apartment building on Pray Boulevard collapsed on April 11. A temporary stop-work order has been issued for the building – one of four slated to open as Waterville Place Apartments. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — A stop-work order was issued on April 13 for a three-story apartment complex on Pray Boulevard after an accident injured three construction workers on April 11.

Waterville Fire Department received a call at 5:54 p.m. on Saturday, and on arrival saw that several of the roof trusses had collapsed onto the third floor, affecting eight to 10 workers, said Waterville Fire Chief Doug Meyer. 

“Three people were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening issues,” Meyer said.

On Monday morning, Meyer, Lucas County chief building official David Golis and an investigator from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stood outside the building to investigate.

“We couldn’t get inside the structure due to it being unstable. We were worried about more coming down,” said Meyer, who advised by 1:00 p.m. that, indeed, several more trusses had collapsed.

The structure is the second of four 36-unit apartment buildings planned for Phase 1 of Waterville Place Apartments, a project of Management Resource Development (MRD) from East Lansing, Mich. After the 144 apartments and leasing office are finished, plans call for Phase 2 with three more buildings – for a total of 252 units, confirmed MRD spokesman Rutger Breakey.

“The accident was caused when a heavy gust of wind came through and knocked over one truss, causing a domino effect which knocked over other trusses. Trusses must be held in place with temporary bracing until the roof sheathing is installed and it would appear that in this case, the sudden gust of wind caused the temporary truss bracing to fail,” Breakey said. “Fortunately, all of the workers were wearing harnesses and full protection, and no one was seriously injured. We do not feel this will cause any major delays with completion of construction.”

According to the National Weather Service, winds were southwest at 12 mph with gusts up to 18 mph at the time of the truss collapse. Monday’s winds at noon were 35 mph with gusts up to 46 mph.

Golis said he’s not personally seen such a failure, but that roof trusses are not designed to stand alone. Sheathing ties them together as one piece. Construction cannot proceed until a structural engineer determines the extent of the damage and plans repairs. 

Breakey said an engineer has been hired. While the incident doesn’t affect the nearly completed first apartment building to the west, Golis said the inspector would look closely to ensure that it’s framed correctly.

This isn’t the first accident at the site, Meyer said. A few months ago, the wall of the first story of the same building fell on a worker and Waterville Fire was called. One person experienced minor injuries.

MRD is a residential property management and construction company that has built and manages over 9,000 apartments and commercial properties in a 10-state area. The leasing office is set to open this spring and the first building should begin renting one- and two-bedrooms units by late summer.

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