Elkridge house collapses, killing man underneath


A modular home in a developing part of Elkridge collapsed yesterday, fatally crushing one of six do-it-yourselfers working to build a basement underneath it. A metal support apparently gave way, authorities said.

The victim, David Mark Kohl, 23, of the 4600 block of New Cut Road, Ellicott City, was a brother of the house's owner and among several relatives and friends preparing for the basement construction, said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, Howard County police spokesman.

David Kohl had been sitting under the house, in the 6500 block of Huntshire Drive east of Meadowridge Road near Interstate 95, when the support gave way about 5:30 p.m. A steel beam landed on his head, Sergeant Gardner said.

Others working beneath the home were lying flat and escaped without injury, he said. A sizable portion of the house slipped, investigators said. The house weighs an estimated 20 tons.

The house is owned by John Kohl, 28, David's older brother, police said.

Bathed in floodlights, rescue workers continued trying to raise the home to pull the victim's body free last night. Authorities first talked about bringing in a crane, but later decided to inflate air bags to lift the house off the body.

Lt. Michael Gearhart, of the Howard County fire department, said authorities were still trying to determine why the metal jack, one of several used to elevate the home 3 to 4 feet, had given way. Work on jacking up the house began yesterday morning.

Lieutenant Gearhart said the jack could have slipped on wet ground or high winds might have moved the home, causing slippage.

"This was a precarious situation," he said.

Neighbors said the preparations started several weeks ago.

The white modular house was built within the past two years.

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