MORRILTON, Ark. — Jimmy Jones Jr. has to bury his 2-year-old daughter, and may have to trade in his motorcycle to pay for it.With not much else to his name, the 20-year-old father said that may be the only way he can afford funeral arrangements for Alissa, who died Monday in the rubble when two brick buildings collapsed in a small town in central Arkansas.
Jones Jr. talked briefly about his daughter Tuesday, sitting in a Morrilton park where he last played with her two days before. He rolled up his shirt sleeve to show a tattoo of Alissa's image on his left arm.
Investigators were working to determine whether construction in one of the buildings was to blame for the collapse, though they hadn't pinpointed the exact cause Tuesday afternoon. Jones Jr. said a friend who went into the boutique days before had seen part of one wall removed.
Stewart Nelson, the mayor of Morrilton, a city of some 6,700 about 50 miles northwest of Little Rock, said several layers had been added to the roof of the building housing the bridal boutique over the years. But the latest renovations to the aging building, constructed in 1932 according to property records, "probably cinched it," he said.
The building fell Monday, killing a child and injuring several other people. City inspector Greg Woodard said he walked through the property several weeks ago at the request of someone who wanted to rent the boutique and turn it into a martial arts studio. The city never received a formal application for a permit to allow major renovations, Woodard said.."We expect the property owner to take responsibility for being certified," Nelson said.
Bryan Andrews, a Center Ridge, Ark. man who purchased the bridal boutique building in April, and his attorney, Howard Yates, declined to comment.City officials said Monday's accident could make it necessary to require regular inspections. Jimmy Jones Sr., 40, Alissa's grandfather, wasn't satisfied.
"It was an unsafe environment for them to be working in there," he said. "That mayor didn't do his job."
Alissa's family will make formal funeral arrangements on Wednesday, said Richard Neal, the county coroner and a director of Bob Neal & Sons Funeral Home in Morrilton. So far, people have donated about $1,000 to help pay for the costs.That likely won't be enough, Jones Jr. said. So he plans to trade in his bike, a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja that his parents bought for him just a few weeks ago.
"He's stepping up," his father said. "He's a good kid."