MAPLEWOOD, NJ -- One construction worker was killed and another seriously injured in a floor collapse inside the Coda Kitchen & Bar restaurant at 177 Maplewood Ave. early Friday morning.
The accident occurred about 9 a.m. in downtown Maplewood. Authorities said three construction workers and the restaurant manager were the only occupants at the time of the collapse. The manager and a third construction worker escaped unharmed.
The worker who died was 50-year-old Guo Tai Chen. The name of the injured male construction worker has not been released..
"The floor of the Coda restaurant collapsed into the basement," Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca said at a press conference. "None of the outside walls were compromised in any way. Work was being done in the basement to create a staircase from the first floor to the basement."
Work was being done by H and K Associates of Edison.
First responders from the Maplewood Police Department started rescue operations before the fire department arrived. "They rushed in without and equipment and tried to dig out the people who were trapped," DeLuca said.
"We had to remove debris to extricate the two workers in the basement," Maplewood Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt said.
DeLuca said the building will remain closed until an engineer inspects to ensure that there won’t be any further collapse,
"Our hearts go out to the families," he said. "This is a tragedy. Someone went to work today expecting to go tonight and they're not going to be there."
The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.
Mayor DeLuca's press conference video: