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'He had so many dreams' | Construction worker killed renovating Atlanta apartment complex

When crews arrived, the man was found dead.

ATLANTA — A construction worker has been killed after a concrete stairwell fell on him Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Atlanta Fire Rescue said crews responded to the incident at an apartment complex that is under renovation at 1220 Gun Club Road NW shortly before 4 p.m. When crews arrived, the man was found dead.

Darwin Maldonado, the supervisor at the scene of the incident, identified the construction worker as Ariel Bonilla.

The two-man crew was working to remove the stairwell completely from one of the apartments. Maldonado was operating a forklift when the incident happened while Bonilla was welding.

"We were removing the stairs on the platform. He went up the middle of the platform to remove the second stairs when all suddenly [it] collapsed and everything fell on him," Maldonado said. 

Maldonado said he didn't see the collapse, but he heard it. He came back to find Bonilla pinned under the stairs, Atlanta Fire Commander Shawn Manns said. 

"It was pretty horrific," Manns explained. " He was under the steps, taking them down when the staircase just collapsed...pancake on top of his arm."

Maldonado described Bonilla as a great worker who had many dreams.  He said Bonilla was a father with three children. 

"He had plans of going back to Honduras," he said. "And then this accident happened."

"He had dreams of building his home in Honduras," he said. "He had already bought his car there. He had so many dreams."

Manns said no one was in the apartment building at the time of the stairwell collapse. The stairwell also struck a gas meter when it fell, according to AFR. However, Atlanta Gas Light said the valve that safely brings natural gas to the meters was turned off prior to the construction work on the apartments. 

"We can confirm there is no active gas flowing to the gas meters at the apartment building under construction," an Atlanta Gas Light spokesperson said in a statement.


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