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No one hurt in Baltimore parking garage collapse, but the driver who entered moments before is shocked

No one hurt in Baltimore parking garage collapse, but the driver who entered moments before is shock
No one hurt in Baltimore parking garage collapse, but the driver who entered moments before is shock 02:31

BALTIMORE -- No one was hurt when a parking garage near Baltimore's Inner Harbor partially collapsed Friday morning, authorities said.

The collapse happened shortly before 10 a.m. on the ground level and second floor of the parking garage at 1 E. Pratt St., according to the Baltimore City Fire Department.

The fire department's special operations unit found no signs of anyone trapped or hurt during an initial scan and floor-by-floor search of the garage, Assistant Chief Dante Stewart said.

Scott McConnell drove into the garage, and a moment later, it collapsed right where he came through

"Put the car in park and I watch the ceiling in front of me drop, it just went," he told WJZ.

He got out of his car, called 911, ran to the gaping hole of the three-story parking garage to see if anyone was trapped or calling for help.

"The section of the second floor just fell into the gate, took it out," said McConnell. 

The collapse blocked off his only way to exit the garage, trapping him inside along with about 50 cars.

Once the Baltimore Fire Department arrived on scene, they helped McConnell out. 

Chief Stewart said building engineers will inspect the parking garage to determine its structural integrity.

Standing alongside the chief at a Friday morning news conference, Mayor Brandon Scott expressed relief that everyone is okay, saying it could have been much worse.

"We are grateful that there was no one injured in this incident," Scott said. "This could have been a severe tragedy. We are grateful to the men and women of the fire department who responded."

The incident shut down traffic to Pratt Street between Charles and Conway. About 10:25 p.m., Department of Transportation workers opened the road back up again, but one lane next to the garage remains closed.

None of the estimated 50 vehicles parked inside the garage sustained any damage, Stewart said.

Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello asked that residents, including those whose cars were parked at the garage, to avoid the area while first responders' efforts continue on site.

"If your vehicle is inside of this garage at One East Pratt Street, please contact SP Plus to get more information on when it's safe to retrieve your vehicle," Councilman Costello said.

Banyan Street Capital, a Florida-based company, lists the building that's attached to the garage as part of its portfolio. SP Plus manages the garage.

"We are aware of the incident at One East Pratt in which part of a parking deck ramp collapsed. As a safety precaution, we have secured the surrounding area and closed all entry points into the garage," the company said. "At this time, there are no bodily injuries and no known vehicular damage. We are cooperating with a structural engineer with the City of Baltimore, who is onsite to determine the cause of the partial ramp collapse."    

The fire department said the garage's owners and management are responsible for conducting annual inspections of the facility. The garage's last inspection was in 2017, according to the fire department.

With that stretch of Charles Street closed indefinitely, there are detours in place. Drivers trying to get to area hotels can still enter the Hyatt roundabout near Charles Street and exit at the median back to Conway Street.

McConnell, who works nearby but lives 75 miles away in Pennsylvania, said he called both the building owner and parking garage manager hoping they'd offer help.

"I asked if I could get a rental car or what about a hotel room because I'm stranded here tonight, and then they told me no," he said. 

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