UFC bantamweight Macy Chiasson lost her home in a fatal crane accident over the weekend and is filing a lawsuit against the apartment complex owners and the crane company.
Chiasson, 27, was at her Dallas apartment on Sunday when a crane working on an adjacent building collapsed onto her complex during a storm. Wind gusts in the area reportedly reached 71 mph, and one woman, 29-year-old Kiersten Smith, died in the accident. Chiasson escaped with cuts to her feet but was otherwise uninjured.
Chiasson said she had just arrived at her apartment Sunday afternoon when she heard noise coming from behind the building. She said she was aware that construction was being done but knew that workers were not usually there on Sundays.
"When I heard that, just as I was thinking that, [there was] a loud boom and the whole building, and floor included, [started moving]," Chiasson told ESPN. "It was almost like an earthquake or an explosion. It was a loud boom, and [before] I could really think to do anything, I could hear something falling through each floor."
Chiasson said her apartment building is seven stories high. Given the noise she heard, she said she was certain that something was about to come through her first-floor ceiling. Debris started to fall and enter through the bottom of her front door, she said. At first, she thought the building next door was falling. Chiasson said she called for her dog and grabbed her phone, the dog's leash and her shoes, and ran barefoot out of the apartment, toward the leasing office.
After Chiasson and her dog got outside, she looked up saw that the crane had basically cut through entire floors of her apartment building. Chiasson then noticed that she had been running through broken glass; she said she had to get the cuts on her feet glued at a hospital.
"I had to stop, pull glass out of my feet, put my shoes on, pick up my dog and basically run to the leasing office," Chiasson said. "I'll never forget just opening the door, and it's just raining, and it's just dark and full of debris and dust, and I'm looking up at this ... giant mess."
From her window, Chiasson said she could see a woman on the second floor covered in blood, calling out for help. Chiasson said the woman's entire apartment was gone except for the small piece of floor that she was standing on next to the window.
As for the woman who died, Chiasson, who had lived in the apartment for nearly nine months, said she knew her by sight but not personally.
Chiasson's apartment was not completely destroyed, but she said the crane is right on top of it, and she is unable to go back and get any of her possessions, including her grandfather's World War II camera.
"I have no access to anything," Chiasson said. "Nothing is accessible. My Social Security card, my birth certificate -- things I'll just never be able to replace ever. It's just in there, and I'm not going to be able to retrieve it."
On Tuesday, Chiasson sued Bigge Crane and Rigging and the apartment owner, Elan City Lights (plus affiliated companies GREP and Gabriella Nationwide), in Dallas County district court for gross negligence, among other claims, ESPN confirmed via court documents. Chiasson is seeking exemplary damages in an amount that "is not less than three times the amount of the Plaintiff's actual damages."
"These people need to be held accountable," Chiasson's lawyer, Jason Friedman, told ESPN of the defendants. "These people were careless, and they're building the whole community. They should care about the community instead of just the bottom line."
Chiasson, who trains at Fortis MMA in Dallas, has temporarily moved in with her parents in her hometown of New Orleans. She was driving there Tuesday and will need to get another version of her birth certificate to begin the process of getting a new apartment in Dallas, she said.
Chiasson said she has received a call from UFC president Dana White and that the promotion is helping her, though she would not go into any specifics, financial or otherwise.
"The UFC has really taken great care of me," Chiasson said. "I'm just so blessed to be a part of something that has not only allowed me to follow my dreams but has taken care of me during some rough times."
Chiasson said her heart goes out to Smith's family and that she could not believe more people did not die in the disaster. Five people were reportedly taken to the hospital. The number of people who have lost their homes remains under investigation, though it's likely to be in the hundreds.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed and injured and to those that suffered property damage," Bigge Crane and Rigging said in a statement to the media. "We are mobilizing personnel to the site to find out more and, of course, to fully cooperate with investigating authorities."
Chiasson (5-0) is one of the UFC's best prospects in the women's bantamweight division. She is coming off a second-round TKO win over Sarah Moras at UFC Ottawa in May. Chiasson won "The Ultimate Fighter 28" in November at featherweight and is 3-0 in the UFC with three finishes. Her next fight has not been booked, and her coach, Sayif Saud, said Chiasson will be out of commission for a few weeks while she gets her personal things in order.