Crews in New Orleans are expected to begin the recovery of the bodies of two workers who died nine months ago when the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed during construction on Monday, July 13, 2020.
The structure on the edge of the French Quarter partially collapsed on October 12, 2019, killing three and injuring dozens. One body has already been recovered. The city was forced to reroute Mardi Gras Parades and the Rock and Roll Half Marathon earlier this year due to the bodies still in the collapsed structure.
Recovery teams were unable to reach the bodies of 63-year-old Jose Ponce Arreola and 36-year-old Quinnyon Wimberly due to the instability of the collapsed structure.
The city and developers have been in discussion on how to safely remove the bodies, an operation expected to take several days, city spokesman Beau Tidwell said earlier this this week.
The city has come under scrutiny for lack of inspections by the Building and Safety department. Several city employees have been indicted for falsifying inspections and taking bribes.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell was forced to defend herself against $70,000 in campaign donations she received from the hotel developers Mohan Kailas of 1031 Canal Development.
“To be clear: any campaign contributions made — by anyone connected to the developer or to their related companies — have had no bearing whatsoever on any decisions made by this administration concerning the Hard Rock project or the collapse,” said an emailed statement from Cantrell’s communication director, Beau Tidwell. “The entities referenced here have donated widely to a range of candidates and organizations. Those contributions have categorically not impacted policy around the site, the project development, or the collapse response.”
A New Orleans based website thelensnola.org compiled a spreadsheet of all campaign donations from the partners of 1031 Canal Development which can be viewed here.