Police ID victims in Holland Civic Center floor collapse

Holland Civic Cener, ceiling collapse
The scene where one person was killed and another seriously injured in a partial ceiling collapse at the Holland Civic Center, which is under construction. (Aug. 1, 2017)


HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities have identified the man who was killed and the other who was hurt after a floor collapsed at the Holland Civic Center Tuesday.

The Holland Department of Public Safety says 38-year-old Ruben Gomez-Vasques, of Grand Rapids, was pronounced dead after part of the second floor collapsed at the Holland Civic Center, which is undergoing renovations.

Rafael Hernandez-Alvarez, 41, was injured during the incident. He was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, but has since been released.

Holland Civic Center, ceiling collapse
The scene where one person was killed and another seriously injured in a partial ceiling collapse at the Holland Civic Center, which is under construction. (Aug. 1, 2017)

At this point, Holland police say they are investigating the incident as a fatal workplace accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was called in to investigate. It appears that the two were demolishing a portion of the cement floor on the second level when it collapsed.

Both men were employed by Xtreme Demolition, Inc., which is subcontracted by GO Construction. GO Construction is the general contractor hired by the City of Holland for the construction project.

The project has been underway since the spring and spans four square blocks between 8th and 9th streets. It includes expansion and improvements to the Farmers Market and gym renovations. The north hall is also being expanded to provide year-round indoor market space and more recreation space.

On Wednesday, Xtreme Demolition  released the following statement regarding the incident:

“It is with great sadness that we have to share the tragic news of the passing of Ruben Gomez-Vasques as a result of the unfortunate accident. Everyone at Xtreme is devastated by the news of Ruben. Our focus right now is supporting his family as well as assisting Rafael Hernandez-Alvarez as he recovers from injury. We offer our prayers to Ruben’s family and continue to pray for Rafael’s healing. We would never wish this situation on any family and remain deeply sorry that these families are now experiencing pain and suffering.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community – it greatly helps. We are doing the best to assist the Vasques and Hernandez-Alvarez families privately. We ask that you respect the families privacy during this difficult time.

“We are grateful for all the emergency personnel that aided our workers. They, and everyone on the site, did what they could to help.

“At this time we continue aiding in the incident investigation and will do so until there is closure. We will defer comment to investigators so we do not anticipate comment beyond this statement. Thank you for understanding.”

G.O. Construction shared the following statement Wednesday:

“A tragic accident involving employees of a subcontracted demolition firm occurred at our Holland Civic Center job site Tuesday, Aug. 1. We are devastated about what happened. We would like to express our deepest sympathies and keep everyone involved in our prayers. We remain grateful to the first responders for their efforts and for the support received from the City of Holland’s public safety officials. At this time the site has been secured and the project has been halted while we cooperate with officials investigating this matter. Due to the sensitivities of this situation we do not intend to provide additional comment and thank you in advance for respecting the privacy of the employees and families involved in this devastating matter.”

**Editor’s note: Police said the surname of the man who died is spelled Gomez-Vazques. Xtreme Demolition said it is spelled Gomez-Vasques.