Officials Speak on Collapsed Hotel Parking Deck

Reporter: Dhomonique Ricks l Videographer: Ira Quillen

Lynchburg, VA - It has been a very busy day for managers at the Holiday Inn Downtown after parts of it caved in Tuesday night.

Managers say the damage is most likely from several overweight vehicles. General Manager Tony Camm says the damage is most likely the result of those trucks driving on the deck of the rooftop.

"Here along Church Street is where we normally park heavy vehicles that don't have the capability to get into the bottom of the garage," Camm said.

But things went terribly wrong, when the visiting trucks made it to the top before his staff.

"They had moved our barriers that we had here at the top of the garage, and had pulled their four, 5 ton trucks into the parking structure," Camm said.

Posted weight limit signs indicate 10,000 pounds is the maximum. Managers believe this is what caused the damage.

"About a 25 foot piece of the parking garage fell in," Camm said. "All of this fell right in between the cars. It didn't damage a single vehicle."

The damage looks worse now, but Camm says that is because public safety crews expanded the hole for safety reasons. Engineer Wayne Schwartz and his employees call the damage significant.

"There's an area over here that's broken that's about 4 or 5 long. There's an area behind you that we've seen that's cracked. It hasn't broken," said Schwartz, president of Schwartz and Associates Consulting Engineers.

As for the main hole...

"That's going to require a beam replacement and we're talking a few months," Schwartz said.

According to Dave Owen with Public Works, the trucks were even heavier than Camm estimates.

"Lightest truck weighed 13 tons, the heaviest truck weighed 35 tons," said Owen.

He says a franchise agreement between the city and the hotel indicates the hotel, or those responsible, will have to pay for repairs.

"It is the responsibility between the Holiday Inn and the company's trucks who caused the damage to the deck," Owen said.

But Camm disagrees.

"Our responsibility as Holiday Inn is basically to keep the cleanliness, snow removal, the gates working properly and lighting. Structural stuff falls on the city side," said Camm.

ABC 13 obtained a copy of that franchise agreement dating back to 2003. The city owns the deck, but the agreement states the hotel will maintain and manage the deck. Public Works says their only role is to determine the extent of damage, coordinate repairs, and work with hotel to make sure the city is reimbursed for any expenses they have incurred.