CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – First responders cleared the scene of a vacant building that collapsed downtown Tuesday afternoon.
No one was hurt in the collapse, which happened just after 2:30 on Laurel Street. City crews finished the cleanup and reopened Laurel almost four hours later.
Mark Schaefer works at Third Avenue Grill, about a block away from the collapsed building. He drove his restaurant’s golf cart to deliver food to the building next door to the one that ended up collapsing on Laurel, between Second and Third avenues.
As he left, Schaefer says he noticed something at that vacant building.
“I heard a couple of thumps or taps, didn’t pay much mind to it,” he said.
He got back in the golf cart, but not for long.
“I heard another thump and I looked over,” said Schaefer. “The whole front of the facade of the building just was coming right at me. I just got out of that golf cart and ran as fast as I could to the other side.”
Schaefer escaped in time and was uninjured. His golf cart, however, was crushed under bricks and debris from the crumbled, roughly 80-year-old vacant building.
A car was parked in front of the building and Schaefer’s golf cart, so he raced back across the street.
“I went and looked in the car, but the windows were so tinted, you couldn’t even see in there, but I did my best,” he said.
Fortunately, no one was inside the car. Like Schaefer’s golf cart, the car was also destroyed.
The city says once first responders knew no one was inside, it was time to see why the building fell.
“We will finish that investigation, try to figure out what exactly happened here,” said city spokesperson Taylor Newell.
Schaefer says even though it took about ten seconds for the building to collapse, he’s lucky it didn’t fall any quicker.
“Thank God it came down a little slower,” he said. “It just didn’t drop. I had time to run and I ran.”
The city says now that Laurel Street and the sidewalk are clear, the building’s owner is responsible for the rest of the cleanup. According to Horry County online land records, city council member Tom Anderson II owns the building.
Records indicated Anderson II bought the property in September 2016 for $381,000. The city said the building had been under construction earlier this year, but no work was being done Tuesday.
No cause for the collapse has been released yet.