Building collapse in Philadelphia kills 6, injures 13

A four-story building in Philadelphia that was being demolished collapsed on Wednesday, killing 6, and injuring at least 13 people.

The empty building used to house a sandwich shop on the first floor with apartments above that. A neighboring Salvation Army thrift store located to the side of the building was heavily damaged. Several of the injured individuals were in the thrift store when the building collapsed, and were taken to nearby hospitals with minor injuries.

According to Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, one woman and five men died in the collapse, but that more may be found beneath the rubble of the building. According to the local news, authorities have no way of determining exactly how many people were nearby at the point of collapse, but that emergency first responders would continue to search diligently for survivors and the deceased.

According to nearby witnesses, the building appeared unsteady before the collapse. Witnesses also reported questioning the safety measures and precautions being taken by the demolition crews.

Roofer Patrick Glynn had suspected a collapse was inevitable due to the methods the demolition crew was using, “For weeks, they’ve been standing on the edge, knocking bricks off. You could just see it was ready to go at any time. I knew it was going to happen.”

Glynn and another roofer, Anthony Soli, were working on a nearby roof when they heard what was described as two loud explosions or bangs. They quickly moved to help pull out three people from the rubble.

Another witness, Steve Cramer, stated that the lack of braces holding up dividing walls compromised the building’s stability and contributed directly to the collapse.

Dan Gillis said, “We’ve been calling it for the past week – it’s going to fall, it’s going to fall.”

“ I was standing there looking out my window, watching the men at work on the building, and the next thing I know I heard something go kaboom. Then you saw the whole side of the wall fall down…onto the other building,” said Veronica Haynes, who lived in a nearby apartment.

Immediately following the collapse, city officials attempted to contact the property owner (STB Investments Corp.) and contractor (Griffin Campbell Construction in Philadelphia), without success.

The building, located on the western end of downtown between the main train terminal and Philadelphia’s business district, was licensed for demolition by the city.

Stephen Estrin, a demolition expert and contractor from Florida, questioned whether the operation was performed with machinery or by hand. “This is an inner-city demolition of a masonry building, which would normally be done manually because of the inherent risk – predictable if certain things are not done very slowly and very carefully – of a collapse,” he said. “One of the problems with claw work is it sets up a vibration in the walls,” he commented, referring to the claw device found in the rubble.

Salvation Army official Major John Cranford said that organization officials were cooperating with the fire and police departments to assist with emergency relief efforts. “Our No. 1 concern is for the safety of our customers and the employees who were involved. We ask for the public to pray for those involved.”

In the case of an accidental collapse such as this, injuries can be costly and debilitating for those injured in the process.  If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident that was out of your control, an experienced attorney can determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and financial hardship. Contact the Killino Firm today for a free case evaluation.