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Photographer Among First On Berkman Scene

2:00 PM, Dec 15, 2007   |    comments
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By Kyle Meenan First Coast News JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Karl Schweinfurth thought the loud rumble at his desk was like an earthquake. When he went outside onto Bay Street, he was stunned to see a rapidly spreading cloud of thick dust and a mountain of debris where a parking garage had stood moments before. "My first thought was there were a lot of people dead," said Schweinfurth. "There was nobody moving inside the site. A lot of people running around it, but there was nobody moving inside." "I was staring at it for three, maybe four minutes, just watching everything happen. The chaos. Everybody running around. Then I finally realized I need to get my camera, so I ran in and got the camera." His lens captured images of some of the first victims being rushed to waiting ambulances, and teams of firefighters swarming over the debris looking for survivors in the pre-dawn chill. "It was still...in between each picture, you're thinking, 'It's really bad,'" said Schweinfurth. It would be several days before the final truth of the Berkman Collapse was known -- that 26-year-old Willie Edwards III had been killed. In the days since the collapse, Schweinfurth has had the time to reflect on the images he captured in that first hour, and the mental images forever seared in his mind. "'Just thank God that only one person was hurt bad. Not more. Had it happened later in the morning, I think there would have been a lot more people hurt."

First Coast News

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