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Three injured when winds topple scaffolding at Sheraton Hotel

By Joe Marusak and Hilary Trenda
jmarusak@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/23/14/39/1i0tcW.Em.138.jpeg|316
    John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    A worker moves construction supplies in front of the Sheraton Hotel Friday morning. Wind gusts of up to 40 mph knocked down scaffolding at the uptown hotel injuring three.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/23/14/39/X4sZD.Em.138.jpeg|144
    John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Wind gusts knocked down scaffolding at the Sheraton Hotel in uptown Charlotte Friday morning, injuring three people.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/23/11/13/11fWfk.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Todd Sumlin - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Workers cleanup tents damaged during heavy winds Friday morning along Coca-Cola Speed Street.

Medic transported three people to the hospital Friday morning when wind gusts toppled scaffolding at the Sheraton Hotel on South McDowell Street.

One person had possibly life-threatening injuries, according to Medic. The other two had minor injuries. Further details weren’t available Friday.

Forecasters estimated Friday morning’s wind gusts reached 40 mph, toppling tents and aluminum barricades and hurling trash barrels along Coca-Cola Speed Street.

The event is uptown Charlotte’s NASCAR-themed festival in conjunction with this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600.

No injuries were reported along Coca-Cola Speed Street.

The Charlotte Fire Department said they called state safety inspectors to the scene of the scaffolding collapse, indicating at least one of the three people injured was a worker.

Requests for comment from the Sheraton were not returned.

The state’s Occupational Health and Safety Division couldn’t confirm Friday afternoon whether an investigation had been opened. But if an investigation has started, officials said, the compliance office has six months to issue citations if they find fault.

The hotel, formerly called the Blake, has been the site of problems for several years.

In 2012, the California delegation stayed there for the Democratic National Convention. Shortly before their arrival, parts of the stucco exterior fell off one tower. After the convention, delegates panned the hotel, complaining of mold, cockroaches, stuck elevators, broken wireless Internet and more.

The out-of-state owners have started a $20 million renovation and rebranding program. Records show county inspectors have found major work being done without building permits three times, although permits appear to have since been issued for the work.

Jim Bartl, the county’s director of code enforcement, said a business owner would not need a specific permit for scaffolding. He said that would be covered by a property owner’s overall building permit.

“If it’s part of the existing construction project that has been permitted, they aren’t required to get special permits,” Bartl said. “We don’t get into construction methods.”

The Sheraton’s liquor license was suspended for slightly more than a week in March, after two partygoers at the hotel were shot during the CIAA tournament.

Staff writers Ely Portillo and Steve Harrison contributed.

Marusak: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @jmarusak
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