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4 hurt as front of La Bonita supermarket collapses in Las Vegas

Updated August 13, 2021 - 7:46 pm

A Las Vegas supermarket that partially collapsed Friday morning, injuring four people, has been deemed unsafe by the county and ordered to close.

Clark County firefighters responded to a La Bonita supermarket, 2500 E. Desert Inn Road, at 6:18 a.m. and transported four people to a nearby hospital with minor injuries after “the front awning, or mansard, collapsed,” Assistant Fire Chief Scott Carnahan said.

County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said the county Building Department on Friday deemed “the structure to be unsafe for occupancy” and ordered it closed.

“The property owner was advised to hire an engineer to assess what caused the collapse and to provide the results of that assessment to our building department for further evaluation,” Welling wrote in an email.

A statement from the company said that employees were given a paid day off and offered support services. Employees may relocate to another store when ready to return to work, the statement said.

“At this moment we can only thank God that this happened so early in the morning and not during busier hours,” Armando Martinez, general manager of La Bonita Supermarkets, said in the statement. “As we get more information, we will update everyone via social media and our website. We would like to thank all the first responders who arrived quickly and helped the injured.”

Deli supervisor Adolfo Navarret said he and at least a dozen other employees were in the store when the collapse occurred.

“I just see the windows breaking like it is an earthquake,” he said. “And I look behind me and I see a bunch of debris and dust.”

He said more than a dozen employees scrambled out of the back of the building to safety.

Vendor Michael Martial said he was walking toward the store near the intersection with Eastern Avenue when “the front of the building just starts falling forward.”

“There were three homeless people trapped under it,” Martial said. “Two were able to get out on their own free will. The third one was actually hit in the back of the head. He was gushing blood.”

Martial said he called 911, then tried to help the injured man. First responders arrived “extremely fast” and pulled a person to safety, he said.

County Fire Battalion Chief Steve Broadwell said the response was a “structural collapse with reports of people trapped.” Firefighters made sure utilities to the building were shut off before digging through debris.

“We began working our way to the bottom of the rubble pile, pulling it all away and checking for any other victims who may have been trapped underneath,” Broadwell said, adding it was “very fortunate” there were only minor injuries. “Later on in the day it might have been a different story.”

Broadwell said county building inspectors were on scene working to determine what happened.

Teri Williams, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Business and Industry, said the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration would conduct an investigation to determine whether any violations of health and safety standards or regulations may have contributed to the collapse.

La Bonita, which has seven locations in the Las Vegas Valley, said in the statement that it is “working with the proper authorities in charge of the investigation of the awning collapse.”

Dustin Dunbar said he was standing near the front of the store, waiting to get a ride from a family member, when the roof collapsed. He said a bottled water display adjacent from the store sheltered him and other from the falling debris.

“It got dark, and then it just landed,” Dunbar said. “If it wasn’t for that water thing, we would have been goners. … I got smacked against the wall. The whole roof came down.”

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Sabrina Schnur contributed to this report.

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