Body of construction worker killed in New Orleans Hard Rock collapse finally removed

Quinnyon Wimberly's family had waited nearly 10 months.

August 08, 2020, 4:29 PM

The body of a construction worker who was killed in the Hard Rock Hotel collapse in New Orleans nearly 10 months ago has finally been removed, his family and city leaders said.

Quinnyon Wimberly, 36, was one of three men killed in the incident. The bodies of Wimberly and 63-year-old Jose Ponce Arreola had been inside the building since the collapse on Oct. 12, 2019. The third victim, Anthony Magrette, was removed shortly after the collapse.

City officials had long said they weren't able to remove the bodies of Wimberly and Arreola safely because the building was too unstable.

"This has been a long journey, but the longest journey has been for the family," New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a news conference. "Long time coming to get Quinnyon Wimberly out of the building. It was an intolerable wait."

PHOTO: Quinnyon Wimberly, 36, was one of three construction workers who were killed in the New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel collapse on Oct. 12, 2019.
Quinnyon Wimberly, 36, was one of three construction workers who were killed in the New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel collapse on Oct. 12, 2019.
Courtesy Frank Wimberly

Frank Wimberly, Quinnyon's brother, told ABC News that when his brother was pulled out, "We all lost it."

He was joined by his mother, Irene, his father, Quinnyon's fiancee, and Quinnyon's youngest son.

Frank Wimberly had said he expected to feel similar emotions to those when the family held a memorial for Quinnyon back in November.

But, he added, "This was worse. This was way worse than the memorial. We were just holding the body bag. We wanted to touch him."

He said that the family was not allowed to see the actual remains, but they gathered around the bodybag and a city chaplain held a prayer.

PHOTO: Workers watch as a wrecking ball knocks debris loose from the Hard Rock Hotel building collapse site in New Orleans, Monday, July 20, 2020.
Workers watch as a wrecking ball knocks debris loose from the Hard Rock Hotel building collapse site in New Orleans, July 20, 2020.
Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

"I remember my mother saying, she kept saying, 'My baby. My baby.' .... My mom laid her head on the body bag," Wimberly said.

The removal process was hindered by numerous delays, deepening the grieving process without any closure, Wimberly added.

A spokesperson for 1031 Canal Development LLC, the property owner, previously told ABC News that the main concern for the company has always been health and safety. The spokesperson also said that two tropical storms hindered the efforts and caused some delays.

Wimberly's body was taken to the Orleans Parish Coroner for an autopsy and then is expected to be brought to Louisiana State University for a forensics examination. The family likely will receive his remains in about two months.

New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said workers now will seek to retrieve the the last remaining body, but he couldn't provide a timeline because Arreola hasn't been located among the rubble.

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