Buildings go up and come down every day in New York City, New York. And while tearing down a structure may seem easier and quicker than constructing one, the demolition process presents its own unique challenges. A major construction accident resulted in several deaths and numerous injuries earlier this year, and ultimately led to serious criminal accusations against the contractor involved in the demolition project.
The fatal construction accident took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in June of this year. According to the city’s district attorney, employees and customers at a Salvation Army thrift store were trapped by a four-story brick wall that collapsed and fell on top of the store. The wall was being demolished by the defendant in the case, the contractor on the construction project.
The district attorney claims that the defendant attempted to salvage materials from the wall to sell, and so dismantled the wall from the inside. The defendant is accused of removing key structural support pieces from the wall, which caused it to collapse. The contractor is also accused of ignoring safety advice and concerns from an architect, and lying to the architect about the condition of the wall prior to the incident.
Tragically, 13 people sustained injuries in the incident and six others died. Now, the defendant has been charged with 13 counts of reckless endangerment, in addition to six counts of involuntary manslaughter and third-degree murder. The excavator involved in the demolition project faces numerous criminal charges as well.
In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation and case, several of the victims have filed lawsuits against the defendant. Furthermore the defendant has been cited with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The incident also resulted in reforms to city guidelines regarding demolition projects.
Source: NBC News, “Contractor faces murder charges in Philly building collapse,” Karen Araiza, Nov. 25, 2013