Derrick Pate was working at the construction site of the Hard Rock Hotel one moment, and fighting for his life the next. On October 12, the steelworker was buried under rubble when the hotel’s structure suddenly came crashing down. When rescue teams located Pate, they were uncertain if removing him from the rubble would cause another collapse.
“I could've been left there,” Pate said to NBC News from his hospital. “And I wouldn't be telling this story today.”
Pate is the last victim of dozens still recovering in the hospital. The collapse broke his femur, forcing him to undergo surgery. He recalled the horrifying experience of hearing his phone ring and being unable to answer it. “I had my phone in my hand. I couldn't move to answer my phone. I just kept yelling for help,” he said.
Now, authorities are beginning to piece together what caused the Hard Rock Hotel to collapse, sending dozens of people running for their lives and killing three.
Authorities Investigating Claimed Video Evidence
Officials in New Orleans are investigating a video posted to social media. It claims to show the Hard Rock Hotel’s structure buckling just days before the collapse. Apparently recorded by a worker at the construction site, the blurry video shows posts bending beneath a concrete slab. The man can be heard saying that the slab is aging and that its support posts are bending.
Randy Gaspard posted the video on Facebook. While he works on commercial projects, he has not worked at the Hard Rock Hotel. Gaspard claims that he received the video from a site worker but refused to reveal their identity. Pate told NBC News that the location shown in the video does appear to be from the Hard Rock Hotel construction site.
The Scene of the Collapse Is Still Unsafe
As investigators validate the video, crews are still working to stabilize the scene of the collapse. Two cranes are still standing unsecured over the sight; they still have the potential to fall over. Crews will intend to bring them down using explosives. A spokesperson for Citadel Builders, the company in charge of the Hard Rock Hotel’s construction, likened the video evidence mentioned above to the precarious cranes.
“We cannot overstress that while we await the implementation of the plan to secure the site, one thing that can be just as dangerous as the tower cranes is false information," the company said.
As Pate recovers in the hospital, he hopes that investigators can find answers.
“Somebody needs to be held accountable for it,” he said.