Roofer freed after collapse in Hamilton Township

April 3, 2013 9:31:36 AM PDT
A roof collapsed on a home in Hamilton Township, Mercer County Wednesday morning, trapping a worker inside.

Firefighters were called out to the 1800 block of Greenwood Avenue just before 9:00 a.m.

According to officials, too much weight was placed on the roof, causing the collapse.

It was a very close call for one lucky construction worker.

They were loading roofing materials on top of an apartment house when the roof collapsed taking one of the workers down with it.

"We were all inside the house and I heard debris fall on the floor of the second floor, and the house was shaking from side to side," said Byron Almendarez.

The workers heard screaming and realized that one of the men was trapped under a pile of debris in the attic.

They called 911and a fire department rescue team arrived to search for the worker.

Firefighters found the victim in the attic and had to dig through a pile of debris to get to him.

"He's pretty lucky, he was trapped underneath at least 10 sheets of plywood and probably close to three tons of roofing materials," said Chief Thomas Gribbon.

While the rescuers tried to get to the victim, his mother showed up and watched anxiously from the sidelines. She identified her son as 35-year-old Michael Rafferty.

"He went up on the roof, and the only thing that I heard was that there was a weak point, and that's where he went down," said Elaine, Rafferty.

About 45 minutes later, rescue workers brought Rafferty out of the building on a stretcher. His mother followed close behind.

The fire department says he appeared to have suffered only minor injuries.

The house is split into two apartments. Officials say the other people inside at the time were also lucky to escape injury.

"I just finished making breakfast, and I was heading to my room, and all of a sudden I heard some noise coming from the roof, and then everything collapsed where I was just standing," said Marline Vetiaque.

The work is being done by a local company, Flansburg Construction. Records show the company obtained a proper permit from the township on Monday.

OSHA is expected to visit the scene later in the day to see if the work was being done properly.

Officials say the house is now unstable, and the two families who live there are getting help from the Red Cross for temporary shelter.