Victoria, TX Abandoned Hotel Collapses, July 1978


Victoria, Texas (UPI) -- Workers digging through cement, bricks and wooden beams of an old, closed hotel that collapsed have temporarily suspended their operations without finding additional victims.
Officials said at least three persons were killed in the cave-in Tuesday of the 65-year old Denver Hotel. Officials believed one more person might still be buried under the rubble.
The once grand hotel, closed since 1971, was scheduled for demolition during the weekend and crews were gutting the structure Tuesday when it collapsed.
"We don't know why it fell like that," said police officer Don Ward. "We're investigating. (The crews) were getting ready to pull it down in a couple of days, but we were told they hadn't pulled out any of the support beams or anything yet."
The first victim was identified as WELDON JOHNSON of Austin, Texas, who was standing on a sidewalk when the three-story hotel's front wall collapsed.
The second victim was identified as SYLVESTRA CASTRO, a construction worker from Mexico. The name of the third victim, also a Mexican national, was not released, pending notification of relatives.
Officials said CASTRO and the third victim were working with jackhammers on steel support beams on the first floor just minutes before the building caved in.
A fourth person, believed working upstairs in the building to remove plumbing fixtures, was missing.
Ward, who once worked as a security guard in the hotel, said it used to be considered the finest lodging in this city close to the Gulf Coast.
"At one time it was a very fashionable hotel," he said. "Cattleman, oilmen, they all stayed there."

Valley Independent Monessen Pennsylvania 1978-07-12