NewsCovering Louisiana


New tarp covers exposed remains at New Orleans collapse site

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Posted at 7:33 PM, Jan 22, 2020

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A new tarp was hung at a building collapse site in New Orleans on Wednesday to hide the partially exposed remains of a worker who was killed there in October.

The body had been exposed after wind blew away another tarp. Pictures of the remains began circulating on social media Tuesday.

City officials had said safety concerns might keep the tarp from being replaced at the unstable partially collapsed building near the French Quarter. But fire chief Tim McConnell said firefighters were able to replace the tarp Wednesday afternoon, braving windy weather at the unstable site.

"It has proven to be a challenge as we said it would," McConnell said.

The body is one of two that officials have been unable to retrieve since the partial collapse of the structure - a hotel that was under construction. McConnell said wreckage has continued to shift at the site.

"They had to drop lines from four and five floors above," said Collin Arnold, the city's emergency director.

City officials, after learning of the exposed body, began asking residents not to take or distribute photos of the remains, out of respect for the family. Arnold said Facebook and Twitter had some of the posts removed after talking with city officials.

The latest photos of the building show a yellow tarp covering the area, several stories above street level, where the victim had been visible. A red tarp that once obscured the body dangled from wreckage nearby.

The Oct. 12 accident killed three people and injuring dozens more. The bodies of two workers, 63-year-old Jose Ponce Arreola and 36-year-old Quinnyon Wimberly, cannot be recovered safely ahead of a controlled implosion of the site planned for mid-to-late March.

"Capturing or sharing images of the victims in such a condition is irresponsible, it is indefensible, and it is not who we are as New Orleanians," city spokeswoman LaTonya Norton said. "Out of respect to the victims and their families, and in the name of basic common decency: we urge news outlets, residents, and social media users to have nothing to do with making a tragic situation needlessly worse."