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Missing workers' loved ones hoping for 'Christmas miracle' after Adams County power plant collapse

Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 19:03:38-05

MANCHESTER, Ohio — Search crews were still digging through rubble Friday evening at the site where a building collapsed on five demolition workers more than two days prior. As of Friday evening, two men were still missing, but their loved ones have not given up hope.

"I'm telling you all, he's going to walk out of here, and when Jamie walks out, I'm taking him right here to you all," said Lora Conley, who is engaged to one of the missing workers, Jamie Fitzgerald. "He would not leave us. He's here. My heart still tells me he's in there and he's alive.

"We're going to get a Christmas miracle; I'm convinced. I know our Christmas miracle is going to be him walking out here."

Shortly before 9 a.m. on Dec. 9, emergency responders received a call of a building collapse at the site of the decommissioned coal-burning plant, according to Adams County Sheriff Kimmy Rogers. Fitzgerald -- along with four others -- was buried in the rubble. Crews recovered three people Wednesday and transported them to area hospitals.

I-TEAM: Demolition firm in charge of collapsed power plant also involved in fatal 2015 accident

The survivors' conditions were not readily known Friday evening.

Meanwhile, Conley was still waiting to learn if her fiancé survived, now 56 hours-and-counting since the building came down.

The same was true for Trista Mabry, whose fiancé, Doug Gray, also remained missing Friday afternoon.

doug gray.jpg
Doug Gray poses for a photograph with his fiance, Trista Mabry, in this undated photo. Gray was still missing Friday, Dec. 11, a day after he was buried in a building collapse at the Killen Generating Station in Machester, Ohio.

"Doug was amazing," she said. "He was super friendly, and he would do anything for anybody. So, if any one of us was laying there in his spot, he would be doing anything he could to get anybody out."

Conley and Mabry have spent time at the site watching crews dig for 45 minutes at a time and then spend 15 minutes yelling for the men, trying to listen for any replies.

The five men were part of a team preparing the building for demolition on Dec. 14.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was still investigating the collapse to see if any violations occurred that might have contributed.

In a statement issued Friday morning, legal counsel for the firm hired to demolish the retired power station, Adamo Demolition Co., wrote:

"Adamo Group is cooperating fully with authorities and we will continue to investigate the cause of this accident. We are working with local officials and we will assist in any possible way to aid in the search and recovery of the missing workers. The safety and well-being of our employees has been, and will continue to be, our primary concern and focus."