One woman is trapped after a Pennsylvania building collapse occurred on July 12, 2017. The woman was reportedly trapped under a refrigerator that fell during the collapse. According to reports, the owner of the building has been cited for unsafe conditions in the past. Luckily, no one was killed in the building collapse, unlike a Philadelphia thrift store building collapse that killed seven people and injured another 12.
Man Rescued from Building, Fiancée Trapped Inside
Emergency crews responded to the City of Washington, Pennsylvania building collapse around 9:00 a.m., after a building on North Main Street partially collapsed. One man was rescued after the incident, but his fiancée—Megan Angelone—remained inside, trapped under a refrigerator. Early reports indicate she was alive as she was speaking with paramedics, but the building was too unstable for a rescue to be conducted right away.
Washington County Public Safety Director Jeff Yates told reporters the woman was in a safe spot but could not be rescued because a wall would need to be removed to rescue her. At around 2:00 p.m., a warning horn was sounded, which indicated that a secondary collapse was possible. Ten hours after the building collapse, Angelone was rescued safely, though she required surgery to relieve pressure from her legs and there were concerns that had she remained trapped for further duration, they would have had to amputate her legs.
Part of the building was under construction to allow for a coffee shop. Currently, the building has a barbershop on the first floor and apartments above. Angelone had only lived in the building for two weeks when the collapse occurred.
Witness Describes “Boom”
Omeer Sellers lives in the three-story building and was home at the time of the partial collapse. He says he didn’t realize that the building had collapsed at first.
“I was in bed and I heard a ‘boom’,” Seller told reporters. “I thought someone was just running down the steps and I opened up my door and see all the smoke and all the debris.”
One resident described hearing a sound like thunder, while another described residents running for safety.
“They were hollering the wall was falling, bricks were falling, so everybody ran down the steps to North Main,” Dennis McCullough, who lives on the third floor, said. “Within 30 seconds, a minute, it was pitch black.”
Emergency crews were required to pull five people from the collapsed building, with some taken to nearby hospitals.
“I started to see cracks in the wall probably about a week ago, and then this morning, I heard bricks falling from the third floor and hitting that metal piece,” Bradford Nickel, a second-floor resident, told CBS. “We heard this loud noise and I was like, ‘Guys, we have to get out of here’.”
According to the Post-Gazette, some residents grew concerned in the months leading up to the incident, that a building collapse was almost guaranteed, after noticing stairs become disconnected from the wall and cracks throughout the walls.
Edward Cook, a building resident, said he told his friend the building would collapse one day, then two minutes later, it did just that. His friend jumped from the second floor, while Cook waited for firefighters to escort him out of the building.
Building in Question a “Nuisance Property”
Washington officials are scheduled to be in court with the owner of the collapsed building in a week, following citations handed out by Municipal Code Enforcement in March, 2017. One code enforcement officer referred to the property as a nuisance.
The building’s owner, Mark Russo, says although he knew about the resident’s concerns, he felt the building was safe.
“None of these residents are structural engineers,” Russo said, adding that although people think they know what they’re talking about, they don’t have the proper expertise. According to Russo, the main compliance issues regarded a back door that was broken and a cracked wall.
Despite residents’ concerns, Russo says the building was properly maintained and had never been a safety concern.
A city councilwoman, however, said Russo had been cited many times concerning the building’s condition.
The city has obtained an order allowing them to demolish the building as soon as possible after everyone was safely out.
If the building owner was negligent in allowing the building to fall into disrepair or become unsafe, he may face charges and/or lawsuits alleging he should have done more to prevent the building collapse.