Fund To Benefit Victims Of Tropicana Collapse

ATLANTIC CITY – Mike Wittland was killed and his son, Ed, fell five stories and broke his neck during last week’s garage collapse at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

Recently released from the hospital, Ed Wittland must wear a metal halo around his head and neck as part of the healing process.

There is no guarantee that the 34-year-old husband and father of five children, or some of the other 19 construction workers injured – some critically – win ever work again.

Three others – James P. Bigelow, 29, Robert A. Tartaglia, 42, and Scan N. Pietrosante, 21- also were killed.

Boxing promoter Don King donated $100,000 to the newly created South Jersey Building Trades Victim Fund on Monday.

King developed and kicked off the fund after his weekend visit to the Tropicana, where he got a firsthand look at the fallen five stories of the 12-slory garage.

“You see the fallen bricks and mortar, which can be replaced, but when you tie that into the lives of the workers, it takes on a whole new significance.” King said. “But out of the pain, anger and gnashing of teeth, you find unity.”

King made the announcement at the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge on West End Avenue, adjacent to the Ironworkers Local Union 350, in Atlantic City.

Dig deep and give to the fund so we can help the children (of the injured and killed) to pursue the American dream,” he said.

The fund’s proceeds will benefit all the victims of the collapse, not just the ironworkers, King said.

Deceased ironworkers Mike Wittland, 53, and Bigelow, a husband and father of an 18-month-old son, were two of the union’s 150 members.

Ed Winland also is a union member.

We’re a very small, close-knit unit,” union attorney Joseph T. Cleary said. That s why losing two members of the union is very significant to us.

“We’re not sure if some of (the injured victims) can work again. We need people to reach into their hearts and try to help:

Investigators still are looking into what caused the collapse.

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