1999-07-29 / Front Page

Building Collapse Kills Two

1051 Beach 20 street, the site of the Far Rockaway facade collapse on Saturday July 24, where a mother and daughter died instantly under the rubble.
John McLoughlin

 

When the facade of 1051 Beach 20 street in Far Rockaway collapsed on Saturday July 24, an afternoon of shopping for a local mother and daughter transformed into a tragedy for the entire community. Theresa Ramlochan, 38, and Melissa Ramlochan, 14, died instantly when they were hit by 100-pound blocks of concrete that sprayed off the building when it collapsed.

According to reports, two men were on the roof of the one story commercial building before the collapse occurred. They were reattaching a sign to the front of the building which, Paul Wein of the Buildings Department said, "disturbed the poorly maintained facade." The collapse occurred not too long afterwards.

Curtis Archer, executive director of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation, was on the block organizing a street fair for that day when the disaster unfolded. "I heard a pop and crack," recalled Archer. Saying that he "never seen anything like this," he remembered the eerie feeling once the front facade crashed and how next there was a "deadly silence." Not knowing if anyone was alive, Archer and others on the block began digging, only to realize that each brick weighed more than 100-pounds. Within minutes they realized that the two victims were not alive.

"Far Rockaway residents, when on the line, pulled together for this," said Archer.

Reverend Dr. Wenton Fyne, pastor of the Community Church of the Nazarene, knew the victims and the family. Far Rockaway residents for 10 years, the family attended his church and he recalled that the "youngster was involved in Sunday school." Fyne has met with Dennis Ramlochan, the husband and father of the victims, and his two sons, to offer as "much care as possible." Calling it a "very difficult time," Fyne said that there is "no rationalization…only trusting and hanging on to hope day by day." The service and funeral for the two victims was held on Thursday July 29.

Wein of the Buildings Department said the building, owned by Alan Ades of New Jersey, did not have a history of building violations. The Buildings Department issued an order to vacate until the facade is repaired and issued the owner one violation for failure to maintain the property.

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