Children OK but in tears after church collapse - KPTV - FOX 12


Children OK but in tears after church collapse

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Children attending a church's Vacation Bible School were shaken but OK after the building partially collapsed Thursday morning.

"It is amazing no one got hurt. Everybody is accounted for. I think that is the amazing part of this," Battalion Chief James Garrett said.

All 64 people who were inside the Rios De Agua Viva Church when the walls came tumbling down managed to scurry to safety. Children inside the three-story building were attending a day camp when the collapse occurred about 10:30 a.m.

Parents rushed to get their children to safety after fire crews pulled everyone from Rios De Agua Viva Church at Independence Avenue and Benton Boulevard, which is in Northeast Kansas City. Parents first arriving on the scene were crying and hugging their children after reuniting with them.

"There was a lot of kids, and they rushed out of the building. They were like sad and scared at the same time. I was scared and sad because I didn't know what was happening," said 11-year-old Daniel Vanueous.

He said he was on the computer when he heard the rumble.

"I just saw it all fall," he said, adding he was scared. "I'm just glad everyone is OK."

Witnesses also described police officers and firefighters helping upset children.

"We looked up and it was a big explosion, and everything just fell" Vasti Sanchez, 20, said.

Sanchez said God protected those inside the building.

"God is everywhere. I didn't feel lucky. I felt blessed," Sanchez said.

Church leaders agreed. They said they thanked God that no one was hurt and praised staff members. Church leaders and members are upset that the community bedrock was essentially destroyed.

The church was insured.

Five officers who rushed into the building and inhaled dust were taken to the hospital to be checked out as a precaution. All five underwent a decontamination process.

A city inspector said the preliminary thought is Wednesday night's heavy rain and the building's old age contributed to the collapse.

"It was up to code. We think the rain and the building being so old may have compromised it," dangerous buildings manager Dalena Taylor said.

Because officials fear the entire building will collapse, the building has been roped off. Inspectors aren't even going inside to determine why the building collapsed.

"The electricity is cut off. The gas is cut off. They have to do that to make sure they don't have any electrical fires, gas leaks or anything like that," Garrett said.

While KCTV5 was interviewing a city inspector, a chunk of the building tore off and crashed down.

Children who weren't immediately picked up by worried parents went to the nearby Independence Boulevard Christian Church to be picked up.

The collapse has also affected an adjacent apartment building. Residents have been ordered to evacuate and have been told that the unstable building likely will have to be torn down, possibly as soon as Thursday. 

The demolition of the church building began Thursday night.

The building, which opened in 1931, was once home to the Benton Theatre. The building opened in 1931. It was one of the many Kansas City theatres that were designed by the Boller Brothers.

The architectural firm based in Kansas City specialized in theater design in the Midwest of the during the first half of the 20th century.

The theatre closed in 1952.

KCTV5 has multiple crews working to gather more details. Refresh this page for updates.

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