Missouri firefighter killed at walkway collapse scene

Posted: February 22, 2014 at 1:32 p.m.

A Columbia firefighter has died after trying to help evacuate University of Missouri students from their apartments after a second-story walkway collapsed.

The firefighter's identity was not being released until relatives could be notified, the Columbia Fire Department said in a news release announcing his death.

The exterior walkway at University Village apartment complex collapsed about 4 a.m. Saturday, but school officials said no apartment residents were hurt.

University student Ghazwan Alway told the Columbia Missourian that he woke up to a loud crashing noise at 4:15 a.m. and thought something had fallen onto the roof. When he looked out his window, he saw that the walkway had collapsed.

"I saw the sparks. Almost everything was hanging down," Alwan said.

He said fire trucks and emergency personnel arrived about three minutes after he called 911.

Alwan said he saw the firefighter fall and appear to lose consciousness. He said the man was taken away by an ambulance.

"He was walking on the hanging part," he said. "Then he suddenly fell down, and he didn't wake up."

University Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin issued a statement Saturday expressing his condolences to the family of the firefighter.

University spokesman Christian Basi said there are 12 units in the apartment complex, and 18 people were there at the time of the collapse.

Basi says residents were being housed in area hotels and provided with assistance to meet their immediate needs.

The apartment complex, built in 1956, houses students with children, married students, single graduate students and students older than 21.