BRISTOL, Tenn. — “I just backed into Cootie Brown’s and heard this awful crash and looked over and a big section of the new hotel that they’re building just collapsed. I don’t know if there’s anybody in there or not.”
Those were the words of the second person who called 911 the night of Sept. 25 to report the partial collapse of the Tenneva Holiday Inn, which was under construction near the intersection of State Street and the Volunteer Parkway in downtown Bristol.
Through a public records request, the Bristol Herald Courier obtained audio files of four calls made to Bristol Tennessee’s 911 line by concerned citizens after a large portion of the center of the building site collapsed just before 8 p.m.
No one was found at the site and no one was injured. Tenneva LLC is the local company behind the Holiday Inn development and Bristol, Tennessee-based Frizzell Construction is the lead contractor on the project.
The first 911 call was made at 7:58 p.m. by a man who identified himself as Dakota. He told the dispatcher he was taking a smoking break outside Southern Craft in the Sessions Hotel when he saw the structure collapse.
“The whole building collapsed?” a dispatcher asked.
Dakota responded, “Not all of it, but like the side of it and it made a huge noise. We were just out here smoking and saw it.”
The call ended with the dispatcher telling Dakota that emergency responders would be sent to the site.
The second call came in around 7:59 p.m. The responding dispatcher became confused when the caller referred to the unfinished hotel as “the new hotel.” She asked the caller if he was talking about the nearby Sessions Hotel, which opened earlier this year. “Yes ma’am, the one that they are currently working on,” said the man, who didn’t identify himself.
The dispatcher then tried to transfer the caller over to Bristol, Virginia’s 911 line.
The second caller became somewhat frantic toward the end of the call.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody in there or not. I don’t know if there’s anybody in there or …” he said with a raised voice before being abruptly cut off.
The third caller, who identified himself as a paramedic, decided to take action after the dispatcher told him they had already gotten calls about the collapse and she wasn’t sure if anyone was at the site.
“OK. I’ll walk in that direction, I won’t go in the building or anything, but I’ll walk in that direction,” the caller said.
The dispatcher thanked him and the call ended.
During the fourth call, which came in just after 8 p.m., the unidentified caller specified that it was not the Sessions Hotel that was involved.
A week later, no information about what happened or what caused the partial collapse has been released. Representatives of the Tenneva Hotel previously told the Bristol Herald Courier that experts would investigate the incident and what caused it. So far, representatives of Tenneva LLC and Frizzell Construction have not responded to requests by the Bristol Herald Courier for new information about the collapse or the status of the investigation.
Bristol, Tennessee City Manager Bill Sorah said that the city is not involved.
Bristol, Tennessee Code Administrator Matt Bailey told the Bristol Herald Courier he was at the site Friday afternoon to talk to a representative of Tenneva, but he added that he wasn’t told anything except that the investigation is still underway.
Representatives of the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance told the Herald Courier that no complaints have been filed in connection to the partial collapse.
Staff reporter Sarah Wade contributed to this story.
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