Surfside Investigator 'Pissed Off' About Being Denied Access to Collapsed Condo Site

Forensic engineer Allyn Kilsheimer was hired by the town of Surfside, Florida, to determine the cause of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse. On Wednesday, he said police have hindered his investigation.

Miami-Dade County police have labeled the site and debris from the June 24 collapse a crime scene, and have thus protected the area. Kilsheimer told local ABC affiliate WPLG that the move to make it a crime scene has led to him being denied the access he needs.

"It makes it harder because I'm pissed off I can't get what I want when I want it," Kilsheimer said.

The current death toll as of press time from the collapse is 97, according to the Miami-Dade County Mayor's office. There are eight people who remain unaccounted for, and all of them have open missing person reports with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Surfside collapse 911 calls
The forensic engineer hired by Surfside, Fla., to investigate the cause of the recent condo collapse said police are denying him site access. In this photo, members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors at the site of the partially collapsed building on June 27, 2021. Giorgio Viera/Getty Images

Kilsheimer told WPLG he's leaving at the end of this week and said he will be doing so without all the information he needs.

"In order to figure out what happened, there is a lot of information we need to get," he said. "And it requires access to the site and access to materials that were on the site that have now been trucked off the site. Right now, we can't get that access."

Kilsheimer has been a structural engineer for 63 years and investigated the 2018 Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse that resulted in six deaths, as well as the 2012 Miami Dade College parking garage collapse that killed four people.

In 2001, he did forensic engineer investigative work at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack. Never before, he said, has he ever faced such restrictions as he has in Surfside.

"This is the first time that I have not been given access," Kilsheimer said.

"We need to follow our investigative processes," Miami-Dade County Police Director Freddy Ramirez said in response to Kilsheimer's complaints. "At a later date, when it seems appropriate, when we have a collaborative agreement of when we can do those things, we will be moving forward. But right now the scene is active, and we really want to keep everything pure and concise."

Kilsheimer said he has a team of 15 people working on the condo collapse case in Washington, D.C., where his office is based. He explained they are doing work with computer and engineering models, but he said they will be hindered without debris samples.

The engineer said he has some samples of the nearby twin building Champlain Towers North, but he said he was denied samples of debris from the partially collapsed condo that are being stored offsite away from the recovery zone.

He also requested to analyze drone video of the collapse site, another request he said was denied.

"We don't have access to anything," Kilsheimer said. "We can only go so far until we know what the materials are that the building was made out of."

Newsweek contacted Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett about Kilsheimer being denied access but did not hear back in time for publication.