Texas A&M University-Commerce
10:35 pm
Sun January 15, 2012

TAMU-C officials investigate falling debris at Whitley Hall

COMMERCE - Officials at Texas A&M University-Commerce say that no students were injured after dozens of pieces of brick fell from near the top of Whitley Hall Sunday night.  

An IRIS Alert was issued to students, faculty and staff warning of debris falling around 8:33 p.m. Brick had come loose from what appeared to be approximately a 20 x 20 foot section of exterior above the 12th floor on the southeast side. The actual size of the gap left by the collapsing brick had not been confirmed.

Emergency personnel quickly blocked off the back entrance and instructed students to enter through the front. The first two rows of the parking lot were also sectioned off from pedestrians. 

“First and foremost we wanted to look out for the safety of our students,” said University Police Chief Donna Spinato.

Students inside Whitley at the time of the incident described the collapse as a loud boom, some mistaking the noise for that of a loud neighbor.   

Pieces of brick scattered the northern section of the parking lot, with pieces still reported to be falling as of 9:27 p.m.

Safety Manager Derek Preas tells KETR that the structural integrity of the interior of the building is not a concern, and students were safe to remain indoors. The university has contacted a structural engineer to come assess the damage, perhaps as early as Sunday night.  

One by one, University Police officers guided students who had parked near the back entrance to their vehicles. Equipped with a hard hat, students were allowed to inspect their vehicle for any damage and then move their car to a safe parking space.

As the spring semester begins Tuesday, there are approximately 460 residents living in Whitley Hall.

Students are off Monday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.