NEW ORLEANS — More than 285 days after Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreola were left trapped in the rubble of the partially-collapsed Hard Rock Hotel, Wimberly's family called for an emergency news conference to ask why recovery of his remains is delayed again.
"We've been quiet. We've been patient, but we can't be patient anymore," Quinnyon's brother Frank Wimberly Jr. said. "We're not just going to sit back and be quiet anymore — sorry. My brother has been in there — in that building — for almost 10 months. That's approaching a year. This is ridiculous."
The family wants closure. Understanding weather delays and safety concerns, the family said they're being reasonable.
"I don't want anyone getting hurt. Our priority is safety," Wimberly said. "There are things that could be done."
During the conference, Wimberly said the family was frustrated with how long the process of recovering the victims has taken, citing equipment issues.
Earlier in the day, New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said a robot that the demolition contractor, Kolb Grading, would send inside the building to clear away hanging debris was not working.
"I'm being told there is a bigger more powerful robot that'll chip away at the rubble a lot faster," Wimberly said. "My frustration is why wasn't that machine brought (to the site) initially?"
Family members said there should be contingency plans for recovery work to continue if obstacles arise.
"When one machine goes down, everything stops," Wimberly said. "Why is there no Plan B, no Plan C?"
Family members said they have been patient but added that their patience is wearing thin.
"We're not engineers. We're not in construction, but we do have common sense," Wimberly said. "If I can think of these things, why can't they think of these things?"