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'We are heartbroken over it': Wife of man 'crushed' in Gaylord Rockies HVAC collapse speaks a year later

Lawsuit filed on behalf of injured and their families
Exclusive interview Gaylord Rockies victim
gaylord rockies resort HVAC system collapse
Posted at 6:54 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 22:37:35-04

AURORA, Colo. — Denver7 Investigates has obtained exclusive pictures and videos of the tragedy that unfolded at the Gaylord Rockies Resort indoor waterpark in Aurora one year ago.

Six people were injured when thousands of pounds of HVAC mechanical equipment came crashing down from more than 30 feet above and into the pool area. Two people were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

"We are just heartbroken over it. It was very preventable," said Patti Markiewicz, whose husband was seriously injured the day of the collapse. For the first time since the incident, Denver7 Investigates spoke with Patti, who describes the event as, "one big epic failure."

A recently filed lawsuit claims the incident was a result of "poor design, poor construction, and poor maintenance." It now alleges the owners of the Gaylord and twelve other defendants are responsible for gross negligence.

"It's a family tragedy that should have never happened," Michael Berg, an attorney representing the victims, said. "When you cut corners something bad is going to happen and people are going to get hurt."

"Please stay with us, please stay with us," Patti recalled the day her husband, John, was hit by the HVAC pipe. "I mean he was... there was blood everywhere. He was crushed."

Victims of Gaylord Rockies Resort HVAC collapse speak 1 year later

The Markiewicz family planned to stay at the Gaylord for their granddaughter's 4th birthday. The same day, John was struck by steel ductwork, "driving his body into the concrete floor, shattering his skull, causing multiple rib fractures, a bruised heart, and a traumatic brain injury," according to the lawsuit.

"I've never experienced anything like that in my life," his wife Patti said. "I was scared for my own."

Another victim, a 13-year-old girl from Arkansas, was also struck by the ductwork and knocked several feet out of a hot tub as she tried to escape, the lawsuit describes. She suffered a snapped pelvis, a shattered hip, and internal bleeding.

"The most important thing people need to know is that what happened to my husband and my family should never ever happen to anyone ever again," Patti said.

Denver7 Investigates has reached out to the lead attorney representing the resort multiple times over the last two weeks, but has not received a response.

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