Engineer recalls Arch Cot holes
THE FIRM Mahy, Ridley, Hazzard Engineers Ltd did not think it necessary to conduct a geotechnical investigation of the area behind Arch Cot Terrace, Brittons Hill, St Michael, even when three different holes were uncovered during excavation.
Director Gregory Hazzard, said he did not believe such an investigation was necessary because the area contained a mass of solid limestone, which in his professional opinion was “suitable for supporting a relatively light two-storey building”.
Hazzard made the comment yesterday while giving evidence at the Coroner’s inquest investigating the deaths of Donavere Codrington, his wife and their three children who died on August 26, 2007, when the apartment building where they were living at Arch Cot, collapsed.
The firm was contracted by Dr Jerry Emtage to provide engineering services on the offices he was constructing at Chelston Park behind Arch Cot Terrace. Hazzard, a civil and structural engineer, told the court that in his 20 years’ experience he had never had a situation where a crack in a rock “had led to this level of instability”.
He spent most of the afternoon on the witness stand under rigorous cross-examination from Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris and attorneys Clyde Turney and David Comissiong.
He told the court that the first crack was discovered on February 7, 2007, at the back of a laundry and it was on the rock face.
He said that one of his employees, James Porte, asked that testing holes be done when this first crack was found but Hazzard stated: “I advised him against it because we didn’t think that doing bore holes would have been useful on that site.”
He said another large hole opened up on July 9, the same day C.O. Williams Construction Company began work on the site and this time around a decision was made to clear the hole and fill it with marlfill.
When a third hole was found eight days later – on July 17 – in the foundation under the Shalom Apartment building, Hazzard said he requested that all work cease on the car park which was being built in the area and he requested that surveyors be hired to go into the cave to carry out an investigation.
Questioned by Comissiong, the engineer said that when this cave was discovered heavy equipment was being used on the site, but he said it was the usual equipmentused in construction.
Hazzard denied a suggestion by Comissiong that his company did “absolutely nothing” when the cave was unveiled, but he admitted that he did not contact the owner of the apartment building neither the occupants to draw the situation to their attention.
When questioned by Marshall-Harris, the engineer said after an investigation was done of the cave he knew the cave extended under the apartment building. He said a decision was made to inform the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins since “we did not think it was ideal for a building to be sitting on a cave.”
Hazzard said that his firm did not contact Cummins even though his contract stated that they were responsible for undertaking any necessary consultation with the Town & Country Planning Department and other agencies.
He pointed out that this was left to Dr Emtage to do since he was in constant contact with Cummins.