Local News

One killed in church roof collapse in Sampson County

Posted February 18, 2010
Updated February 19, 2010

— One person was killed when the roof of a church in Sampson County collapsed on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

The Sampson County Highway Patrol said crews were working on the roof of the new sanctuary at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 3790 Faison Highway in Clinton, when it collapsed just before 4:30 p.m.

Two others were injured and taken to Sampson Regional Hospital. One of the patients was later airlifted UNC Hospital.

One killed when church roof collapses One killed when church roof collapses

The person who was killed and the two who were injured were construction workers. Their names were not released.

When the collapse happened, crews were replacing wood around the structure that had just been put up hours before, construction worker Orlando Martinez said. The crane operator had just wrapped up his work and the crew was trying to stabilize the building.

“We’re taking some two by fours out and every time we took it out, we heard a sound,” Martinez said. “And then suddenly half the structure came down.”

Martinez and the two men with him were working on the part of the structure that did not cave in. In all, nine men were working on the structure when it gave way.

The man who was killed had only been on the job for two days, Martinez said.

"He was glad," Martinez said. "He was happy that he found a job. He was a happy man."

The contractor for the construction project is Clifton Halso Building Contractor in Chinquapin.

Tony Rackley, chairman of the church's Board of Deacons, said the new sanctuary was being built to coincide with the church's 100th anniversary.

“All we ask if for people to pray for us. We’ll pull together and we’ll overcome this,” Rackley said.

Construction of the sanctuary started last October and was expected to be completed by November of this year, Rackley said.

Sampson County authorities said representatives with the Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be at the site on Friday to investigate the structure collapse.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • jamiller89 Feb 19, 2010

    Hope for the contractor that the problem is from a truss problem. But the one thing I see against the contractor is the fact he has a Limited Building license. Meaning he can do projects up to $500,000.00. This looks to be a good bit in excess of the limitations of his license.

  • archmaker Feb 19, 2010

    The real cause of this is the BUILDERS and CONTRACTORS who hire them!!

    really? the builder or contractor is going to hire the cheapest person because they are only going to be hired when a person choses based on the cheapest contractor.

    its the wal-mart syndrome.

  • BeenHereSince67 Feb 19, 2010

    Pappy1: You got that right! I have many friends who are out of work due to the situation with contractors & builders hiring illegals (NOT "undocumented workers") & NOT hiring The group of citizens many of us love to call "Rednecks". These people are proud to be hard working Americans. They do excellent work in their own communities. A large percentage of them have been displaced by these criminals sneaking into our country & stealing their jobs. This is not a warm & fuzzy issue as many on the far far left AND right would have us believe. They are bankrupting our social services systems, doing shoddy work, NOT joining our society, & every last one of them needs to either go home NOW on their own, or be sent home in chains. They do not work only the "jobs Americans won't do" (what a big fat lie that is), they have displaced huge numbers of hard-working folks who had every right to have the jobs they've lost.

    The real cause of this is the BUILDERS and CONTRACTORS who hire them!!

  • Air Biscuit Feb 19, 2010


    I agree with you. I am not saying this about the particular church involved, but I know that church committees often go with the cheapest bidder, compromising the safety of everyone involved...sad that churches will sit on a bank account balance and get cheap construction.

    Let that be a tragic lesson...cheap ain't always better.

  • OldBikerGuy Feb 19, 2010

    Wow, you can't get a clearer message from God than this!

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Feb 19, 2010

    One person quoted in the article has a hispanic name, so that automatically makes these workers illegals.

    There are many hispanic people in Sampson County, some who have worked here for many years that are legal and US born.

  • archmaker Feb 19, 2010

    i clearly see bracing on the walls, not that it mattered in the direction the trusses fell.
    similar to walls, trusses have no resistance to lateral forces in that direction until the substrate (such as plywood) spans across them. until that occurs, wind is a formidable enemy.
    this isn't about illegals, general contractors are liable for all subs work and must show architect/client/bank proof of insurance.

    i don't know this particular contractor, but a church needs to pick one that's experienced in commercial construction and check their references. time and time again i see churches picking glorified home builders because they're cheaper and run into problems later. some of that is because most churches don't put one decision maker in charge - they use committees.

    we have a saying - camels are horses designed by committee.

  • Barrackawack Feb 19, 2010

    Somebody should investigate the contractor and make sure these victims were legal citizens and hold him liable and thrown in jail if they were illegal !

  • pappy1 Feb 19, 2010

    Terrible tragedy. Contractor using off-the books workers for little money and no coverage. Everyone involved - from the church management, to the crew foreman needs to be incarcerated.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Feb 19, 2010

    When I first glimpsed at this photo, it did not register that the image was 2 X 4s. The construction of this building looks fragile to me. I would think a building that large without what appeared to be no center supports would need to be constructed with steel framework instead of wood.

    Very sorry for this man's family. Sounds like he was desparate to find work.