A forensic engineering expert hired by Southside officials to investigate the devastating condo collapse says he has been denied access to debris from the site — as the death toll climbs to 97.
Allyn Kilsheimer, an experienced structural engineer who worked with the Pentagon after 9/11, told WPLG that he’s leaving at the end of this week without all the information he needs to get to the bottom of what led to the collapse.
He said Miami-Dade County police have declared the site a crime scene and insisted they need to protect the evidence.
“It makes it harder, because I’m pissed off I can’t get what I want when I want it,” Kilsheimer, who was hired by the town of Surfside to determine the cause, told the news outlet.
“In order to figure out what happened, there is a lot of information we need to get,” he continued. “And it requires access to site and access to materials that were on the site. That have now been trucked off the site. Right now, we can’t get that access.”
Police Director Freddy Ramirez said his department has to “follow our investigative processes.”
“At a later date when it seems appropriate, when we have a collaborative agreement of when we can do those things, we will be moving forward. But right now the scene is active and we really want to keep everything pure and concise,” he said, according to WPLG.
However, Kilsheimer, who has also investigated the FIU bridge collapse and the Miami Dade College garage collapse, told the outlet it is “the first time that I have not been given access.”
Now he is worried that vital elements could be destroyed without him being consulted.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the collapse has risen to 97 — 90 of whom have been identified, according to the Miami Herald.
The latest victim to be identified is Luis Barth Tobar, 51, whose body was recovered Saturday, the paper reported.
Officials have cautioned that they have no timeline for when the recovery effort is expected to wrap up.
“It will conclude sooner than we expected,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told the Herald. “My hope and my most strident desire is that we can get everybody out.”
He said the process of identifying bodies is taking longer now due to the state of decomposition since the Champlain Towers South collapsed on June 24.
However, he added: “My message to the families is the same that it was on day one: We will not stop working until we get everybody out of that pile of rubble and return them to their families.”