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A woman who lost her leg in an Iowa building collapse has shared her harrowing tale of how she survived by protecting her head and face and moving away from dripping water to avoid drowning.
Quanishia ‘Peach’ White Berry and her wife Lexus had been in their six-floor apartment building on May 28 when they noticed cracks beginning to form on their windows.
Speaking to CNN, she said: ‘Imagine hearing a building get torn down, that’s how it sounded when everything just fell – and I fell.’
After six hours under the rubble, Berry said she remembered thinking: ‘I have to make it, for her especially. I have to survive this, I have to be able to tell this story.’
Berry said she had gallons of water pouring on her from pipes and she was using pieces of rubble to cover her face to avoid drowning.
Quanishia White Berry, right, and her wife Lexus, left, had been in their apartment in Davenport when the building collapsed
An aerial view shows a portion of a six-story apartment building after the collapse
Berry said: ‘I got gallons of water just pouring on me, I’m soaking wet with metal everywhere. I was taking pieces of the floor, and covering my head so I didn’t drown.’
After hours of rescuers making their way towards her, they had to amputate her leg at the scene.
Dr Calvin Atwell, a trauma surgeon at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, told CNN: ‘She was losing a fair amount of blood from her right leg and you could see an open wound.
‘We crawled in there and put a tourniquet on that leg and they were working vigorously to get that leg untrapped.’
After realizing they wouldn’t be able to free it, Atwell performed an above-the-knee amputation with a knife and power saw in the crumbling building as search and rescue team members shone lights on the procedure.
He continued: ‘When she was unresponsive, we just made a decision: Let’s get her out of here.
‘We knew that she’d been trapped for six hours, and we knew that she wasn’t going to survive much longer.’
On her recovery, she said: ‘I’m looking forward to healing and getting good treatment, good care.
‘I’m already seeing myself walking again. I don’t feel stopped by any means.’
Horrifying surveillance captured at the scene shows the building completely fall in on itself.
Puffs of dust can be seen pouring out from the building just seconds before it collapses. Three people were killed and dozens of apartments were destroyed.
Branden Colvin Sr., 42, Ryan Hitchcock, 51, and Daniel Prien, 60, were believed to have been at home during the collapse and had been declared missing after initial rescue attempts. Their bodies were finally recovered earlier this week.
The first lawsuit against the city and building’s owner has already been filed.
The bodies of Branden Colvin Sr., 42, Ryan Hitchcock, 51, and Daniel Prien, 60, were recovered nearly a week after the building collapsed
Children draw on the ground with chalk at the scene where the building partially collapsed last month
Governor Kim Reynolds, center, talks with local officials while touring the site of the apartment building collapse on Monday
Tenant Dayna Feuerbach has accused the city of Davenport, as well as the building’s current and former owners, of multiple counts of negligence, claiming they knew about the deteriorating conditions and failed to warn residents of the risk.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and notes that additional suits are likely.
Berry and her wife Lexus have also filed a similar suit against the city after their horrific ordeal.
Mayor Mike Matson said Monday that neither he nor other city officials have been in touch with building owner Andrew Wold.
On May 30, Wold released a statement saying’ our thoughts and prayers are with our tenants.’ He has not released any additional statements since.
County records show Davenport Hotel L.L.C. acquired the building in 2021 deal for $4.2 million.
Chief Bladel said the Davenport fire marshal’s office had started an investigation of the building collapse with help from the state Division of Criminal Investigation, Davenport police and the medical examiner´s office.
The building, built as a hotel in 1907, had been converted into about 80 apartment units that were home to roughly 50 people.