After 3 Workers Killed In Downtown Dallas Fire, Families Want Answers | KERA News

After 3 Workers Killed In Downtown Dallas Fire, Families Want Answers

Dec 18, 2014

Family members of the three men who died last week in the Thanksgiving Tower fire in downtown Dallas spoke publicly for the first time Thursday.

Surrounded by grieving relatives, Felipe Velasco talked about his father-in-law, 60-year-old Nicacio Carrillo, who was one of the three workers.

“The grandkids are still expecting him to be with them,” Velasco said. “They don’t have the capacity to reason that he’s not coming back. And my wife is in pieces. She’s suffering a lot, like my mother-in-law. ... Everybody is in a lot of pain.” 

Velasco said his family wants to know why firefighters couldn’t get to the workers faster and rescue them from inside the 35 foot-deep tank they were working in.

“We learned that they only way out was through the lift, and on the first flames, when the explosion occurred, the control burned right away,” he said. “They were trapped down there.”

“What happened, what caused it, that’s all we want,” said Efrain Villareal. He’s the son of another worker, 36-year-old Oscar Esparza. “Nothing is going to bring my Dad back. It doesn’t matter about the money. We don’t want other families to go through what we’re going through.” 

Jose Velasquez holds a family photo of his relative, who died in last week's downtown fire.
Credit Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Villareal said Best Mechanical, the company that hired his father and the other two subcontractors, has yet to offer even a condolence message. KERA has made repeated requests for company comment, but Best Mechanical has not responded.

Last week, a Best Mechanical spokesperson, Cheri Torres, told The Dallas Morning News: “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to these families, especially at this time of the year.” Torres said the men had safety equipment.

The three men, Nicacio Carrillo, his nephew, Luis Carrillo and Oscar Esparza, officially died from smoke inhalation when a fire engulfed them in the basement of the Dallas skyscraper, which is undergoing a renovation. 

“No amount of money can bring back a father, a husband, all we can do is what the law allows us, for some type of justice for these families,” said Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia.  

According to new data released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal work injuries among Hispanic or Latino workers were higher than all other racial and ethnic groups. Texas also leads the nation in the number of work fatalities.

OSHA is investigating this incident, but it’s not clear when the agency will release its findings.