Bayshore parking garage collapse; cleanup underway, cars stuck

A Bayshore parking garage partially collapsed Thursday, leaving dozens of cars trapped inside and a big mess to clean up.

Two cars were crushed when part of the third level fell, collapsing the second level with it to the ground. Officials do not believe anyone was injured.

Torpedo heaters were initially brought in to try to melt snow – but that didn't work as planned. North Shore Fire/Rescue brought in more equipment Friday to make sure the surrounding structure is safe, so crews can go in and start to removing debris.

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"It's a methodical, slow process. Cyprus Properties, their first and foremost concern is the people working here, so they we all agree this is a process that's safer rather than faster," North Shore Fire/Rescue Chief Robert Whitaker said.

A crane lifted an excavator and saw to the third level. Whitaker said crews would cut concrete until it got dark Friday and expects they'll be back throughout the weekend. 

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Feb. 24 aftermath of Bayshore parking garage partially collapses (Courtesy: North Shore Fire/Rescue)

Snow was likely a factor in the collapse, Whitaker said, but the exact cause has not yet been determined. FOX6 Meteorologist Rob Haswell said it was likely a mix of snowflakes and ice. 

"It’s not something that maybe was thought of when they piled that snow up there,: he said. "I think we think of snow as being light and fluffy no matter what form it comes in, but it was several tons of snow likely in one spot."

One cubic foot of snow, he added, weighs about 20 pounds. If that snow gets packed into a certain area, it could weigh as much as several cars parked in one spot.

The investigation into the cause will be up to the property owner. FOX6 News asked Bayshore, and a spokesperson said they need more time to figure out a plan of action moving forward.

What do car owners do?

It could be weeks or even months before cars are removed from the garage's top level, and owners said they're frustrated they aren't getting many answers right now. 

John Hird is frustrated but grateful no one was hurt; the last 24 hours have been no laughing matter.

"That's the biggest thing, I’m alive," he said. "I was a little shaken up all day yesterday."

Hird, a painter, came to work on a project at Bayshore when he noticed something wasn't right Thursday – huge snow piles being pushed into the garage.

"I seen how they were stacking it up over there, and that was my first thought was that they’re putting too much weight in one area," said Hird.

When Hird stepped outside hours later, he found the garage partially collapsed and his GMC Acadia stuck on the top floor.

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"They were saying it could be a month, it could be two months. Obviously, there’s no ramp, so I can’t get down," said Hird.

Thursday, officials said 56 cars were inside the structure. A day later, those on the bottom level had been moved, and crews prepped equipment to move the fallen concrete.

A Bayshore representative told FOX6 News, if your car is stuck, to call Bayshore security. They said they are keeping a master list and working to communicate what's next. 

Students narrowly miss collapse

Two Whitefish Bay High School students had front row seats to the collapse.

Anna Holz and her friend, Alex Peckey, were at a stop sign about to turn into the garage's entrance for lunch when their lives flashed before their eyes.

"We really didn’t think about it until after the fact because we were freaking out, ‘OK, like what do we do, do we call 911?" Holz said. "Then we were sitting thinking about it, if I would have kept going in, that would have been us in there."

The girls said they felt the boom and shock immediately. When they returned to the scene Friday, they said it's a miracle no one was hurt.

"We didn’t hear anything, so we kind of had high hopes that we didn’t see anyone," said Peckey.

The girls said, after the collapse, they put on their hazard lights and told people to drive out of the garage, encouraging those behind them to turn around.