Survivor: No concerns over PGC building

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 08:51 29/11/2011
David Sandeman
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/The Press

LIVES TO TELL THE STORY: David Sandeman is pictured with a colleague celebrating his rescue on February 22.

David Sandeman
DEAN KOZANIC/The Press
UP FRONT: David Sandeman tells the commission yesterday of his experience in the collapsing PGC Building.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A survivor of the PGC building believes every reasonable precaution was taken before returning to the building.

David Sandeman, whose photograph after being rescued from the collapsed building is one of the enduring images of quake survival, gave evidence yesterday to the Canterbury earthquakes royal commission.

Working for Marsh Insurance on the fourth floor of the Pyne Gould Corporation building on February 22, he plunged through three floors into a dark hole as the building shattered around him.

Sandeman and four colleagues trapped in the same space were rescued about two hours later.

But he said he had no concerns over the handling of building inspections before the killer quake.

Speaking after addressing the royal commission into why the building failed, he said he had every faith that both the Christchurch City Council and building owner Cambridge 233 had been careful in their initial and ongoing inspections after the September 4 quake.

The building was given a green sticker after a rapid assessment on September 5.

It was inspected a further four times between September 7 and January 27 – each assessment deemed the building safe for occupation.

"In terms of the council, they had a stupendous obligation," Sandeman said.

"And as far as the owner is concerned, I have known Stephen (Collins), not terribly well but for a long time, and I'm totally in agreement with what he said ... anything specific brought to his attention he would have done it.

"The building was full and everybody seemed hunky-dory so I had no reason to feel scared. I had no concerns about that ... even when all hell was breaking loose I had no fear that I was not going to make it out."

Sandeman said since the quake he had re-retired, and was looking forward to his earthquake-damaged Ilam home being repaired.

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