UPDATE: The City of Davenport has confirmed the bodies of Brandon Colvin, Ryan Hitchcock and Daniel Prien were recovered at the site of the partially collapsed building in Davenport. For more on the story, click here.

(Clockwise, from upper left) Brandon Colvin, Ryan Hitchcock and Daniel Prien (City of Davenport)

There are now three people feared dead from the downtown Davenport building collapse, and two other residents previously unaccounted for have been found.

At a Thursday morning city press conference, Police Chief Jeff Bladel said officials met with the Red Cross, other organizations, the property owner, manager, and local homeless shelters, and from their initial information, the city concluded there were five people unaccounted for from 324 Main St.

Previously, Ryan Hitchcock and Brandon Colvin have been assumed to be trapped under the rubble from the May 28 partial building collapse, since their apartments were in that area, Bladel said.

Davenport Police Chief Jeff Bladel speaks at a press conference Thursday, June 1, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“Out of the other three, officers were able to make contact with two, through family members, and those people are OK and safe and out of that building.” Bladel said, noting one was found in Texas and the other elsewhere in Davenport.

The third remaining unaccounted for person is Daniel Prien, age 60, and his apartment was also in the area where the collapse was, Chief Bladel said. “Right now, we don’t have any family members, points of contact,” he said, noting Prien is entered into the national database as a missing person.

“This is something we’ve never experienced before as a community,” Bladel said Thursday. “This has something that has impacted the entire community. We have families here still wanting answers and searching for their loved ones – an outpouring from our community to be here and help those families.”

Protestors outside the partially collapsed building in downtown Davenport Thursday, June 1, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Following Davenport Police Department protocol, Colvin, Hitchcock and Prien will be placed in the National Database of Missing Persons. Mayor Mike Matson said there is still no timetable for the controlled demolition of the building.

On May 30, 2023, the city of Davenport issued a municipal infraction to the owner of 324 Main St., initiating a legal action. This legal action was taken to ensure the owner of the property cannot transfer the property to another owner in an effort to avoid a large lien that is expected when the response has been completed, the city announced Thursday.

City staff resignation

The city said Thursday that its staff understands the confusion and concern of the public on the issue of repair work being done on 324 Main shortly before the May 28 collapse.

Rich Oswald, director of the city’s Neighborhood Services Department, speaks at Thursday’s press conference (photo by Jonathan Turner).

On Wednesday, the building permit process was investigated. On May 25, 2023 a permit was created by a staff member in the city of Davenport permitting software system. While creating the permit record, a check box for passing the permit was inadvertently clicked due to clerical error, the city said in a release Thursday.

Later that day (May 25), city staff was on site conducting an inspection of the work progress being done. This work was not completed at the time of inspection.

After the inspection on May 25, the staff member responsible for completing the documentation of the on-site inspection left town. When the staff member returned to the office on May 30, they entered their notes from the onsite inspection from May 25 into the system. At that time, the error of the permit being noted as “passed” was changed to “incomplete,” which is what triggered the external facing system to present as “failed.”

Davenport Mayor Mike Matson speaks at Thursday’s press conference (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“The City recognizes the gravity of the error that was made and the resignation of the staff that was involved was given yesterday,” the release said.

The second part of this was the failed status of the permit. The permit was noted as “failed” due to an IT glitch that caused the permit to be shown on the public facing system as “failed” when marked incomplete on the internal system.

The permit was never failed after inspection, but rather was marked as incomplete. The IT Department is working to correct this issue, the city said.

The status of “incomplete” is accurate. The work for this permit was not completed prior to the collapse of the building and thus no assessment of pass or fail could be attributed to this permit. 

“Again the City would like to acknowledge the sensitivity of this issue and ensure our community we are handling this with the up most attention,” the release said.

Oswald said the permit was issued to start repair work, and a system error showed it failed. “The inspection never failed; it was incomplete,” he said Thursday. “The work was still in process.”

The error allowed to be showing as a failed inspection. An inspector did an inspection on the 25th, among numerous inspections and had inadvertently marked it as “passed.”

Rich Oswald speaks at Thursday morning’s press conference (photo by Jonathan Turner).

The IT department is working to resolve that glitch, and because of the magnitude of that error, that city inspector submitted their resignation Wednesday, Oswald said.

“I want the public to know the status of incomplete is accurate,” he said. “The repair work was never completed, never signed off on.”

Based on engineering reports the city had from Select Structural Engineering, there was no indication that people shouldn’t be living in the building, Oswald said.

“That was why the permit was issued for that work to be done,” he said. Select Structural was hired by the building owner, Andrew Wold.

The city allowed the engineering company hired by the owner to do the report, instead of requiring its own independent firm.

“A professional engineer is certified,” Oswald said, noting it shouldn’t matter who hires them. “That’s their professional career. An engineering report stamped by that engineer is a qualified report. They are state licensed.”

Matson said they were qualified by the state to do the work.

In February, MidAmerican Energy would not do work on the building based on what they felt were structural issues around gas meters. Oswald was asked why the building was considered habitable if the utility company didn’t feel it was safe.

“They had some façade brick issues on the southwest side of that building, directly above the gas meter,” Oswald said. “They needed a larger gas meter installed and because of the loose bricks, the gas company was following their safety protocol. They said, ‘Hey, we want to make sure our people our safe.’ That’s what stemmed the inspection in February.”

Could the city have prevented this?

When asked if the city should have prevented this tragedy, Mayor Matson said he totally understood the frustration.

“I have the same anger and concerns,” he said. “Believe me, we will look at this. One person does not work here anymore. We will continue to investigate this.  As we’ve already done, we’re continuing to turn over everything we know.”

Mayor Matson addresses local, state and national media on Thursday, June 1, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

An outside investigation will try to determine the causes of the collapse, Matson said, adding no one could have anticipated it.

“I can only tell you, through improved inspection, and continuous inspection cycle, we will continue to look at things,” he said. “After this tragedy, this will be a conversation for a long period of time.”

“Do I think about this every moment? Hell yeah,” the mayor said. “This is on me. There people talking about other people. It’s me – you talk to me, and some are. I’ll take that.”

“I have regrets about a lot of things,” Matson said. “We are not perfect. Maybe we gave you an answer a couple days ago based on information we had and I gave you that answer. And in real time, things change and new information came. New searches happened and new investigations went on.”

There is a line to cross when the city says that people have to be kicked out of their home, and Oswald said other landlords have been to forced to vacate buildings.

“There are numerous reasons,” he said. “When inspections are done, it depends what was called. Sometimes, they don’t maintain the building, sometimes they don’t make repairs. Or the repair, it’s uninhabitable.”

The city had released two notices to vacate the building, on Feb. 10 and May 5, with no specific unit numbers.

The Davenport apartment building, located at 324 Main St., Davenport, sustained a partial building collapse May 28, 2023. (Brian Weckerly, OurQuadCities.com)

“In a rental inspection program, if it’s a complaint inspection, the landlord has so long to make the repair or we will order to vacate the unit,” Oswald said, noting it could be due to several issues.

For the most recent repairs, no units were required to be vacated, he said. Anything over 12 units, the building must be inspected every two years, Oswald noted.

“We will look at this again and we are totally aware of other buildings, and we always are aware of buildings and when they should be inspected,” Matson said. “We are very attuned to sending inspectors outside of the cycle they’re on, to particular buildings.

“You can see, there’s a lot of old buildings,” he said of downtown. “Obviously we know the concerns of some.”

Status of demolition

Matson said the city is working with experts in building demolition, “taking it down in a very dignified and respectful way,” he said. “This needs to be done in a way that it respects this is a resting place and that we have to take this down – when we do that, and we’re not anywhere near doing that.”

Protestors outside Davenport City Hall, near the damaged building, on June 1, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

He equated the recovery work to an archeological dig.

“We’ll sift through to try and find, if they’re there, remains of folks’ loved ones,” Matson said. “That’s the level we intend to do.”

When asked why Lisa Brooks (who was rescued around 8 p.m. Monday) was missed during the first sweep of the building, he said he still can’t explain it. “Believe me, we’re going to continue to look into it.”

State emergency workers are at the site today, Matson said.

“Believe me, we understand the significance of this tragedy and the significance and the terrible sadness that families are going through, for their unaccounted relatives,” he said. “There’s a strong possibility this is a resting place. There is no other focus for us…When we do this, it has to be done this manner.”

There is no timetable, since many people have to be consulted in the proper procedure, the mayor said.

The Davenport apartment building, located at 324 Main St., Davenport, sustained a partial building collapse May 28, 2023. (Brian Weckerly, OurQuadCities.com)

Staff from multiple jurisdictions have been working in the building many times, and Matson praised the thoroughness of rescue and recovery efforts.

“The amount of caring from our first responders to try and find folks and save lives, I don’t know if it’s unheralded, at least what I have witnessed personally – standing there 24 hours straight, watching the teams coming in and out of that building, drenched and overwhelmed with heat,” Matson said.

“Securing an inside, unstructured, unsafe place, to get a person out, when doctors are doing trauma inside that building,” he said. “Stuff that is coming down, in small spaces, breaking down doors to find people in rooms – I can’t stress enough how many times that has happened.”

Drones and infrared technology have been used multiple times, Matson said.

More help available

Project NOW will serve as a collection place for non-perishable food, new clothing, hygiene products, furniture, mattresses, etc., for people displaced by the building collapse.

Items can be dropped at its 418 19th St. Rock Island location for the next month, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Clothing hanging in an apartment building that partially collapsed on Sunday afternoon can be seen Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Davenport. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

According to Project NOW’s executive director, Dwight Ford, the agency is working with MidAmerican Energy and will be able to pay the utility bills for all the Davenport building residents. 

Project NOW’s community services director, Ron Lund, says Project NOW will be able to deliver furniture and other items to residents in Scott County, Rock Island, Mercer, or Henry counties. And if residents want to relocate to Illinois, Project NOW has deposit and rental dollars to help. 

John Huber with Bethany for Children & Families says all of its furniture collected for its family program will be going to this effort. Bethany will also be providing Goodwill vouchers.     

Cecelia Bailey, the executive director of QCON-Hub, says a Disaster Ready QC fund has been activated (through the QC Community Foundation) and Quad Cities Open Network will be distributing through network partners $300 VISA gift cards and prepaid phones to families registered through the American Red Cross at the downtown Davenport YMCA on Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Additional funds of up to $1,000 will be made available to families after they have been assessed and referred to state disaster funds and other resources, Project NOW said.

To contact the Red Cross, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767).