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Philadelphia Demolition Accident

Discussion in 'Demolition' started by Tracklayer, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. Tracklayer

    Tracklayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    minnesota
    There is a lot of news covering the accident last week where a building that was being demolished fell on an adjoining building that was to be saved. That building to be saved was a thrift store that was occupied, and six of the occupants were killed. Despite the intense news coverage, it is impossible to understand what actually happened.

    They charged the excavator operator because he was high on pot. How did they determine that, and what role did it play in the operator’s performance? What did the operator actually do with the excavator that caused this accident? There seems to be hundreds of photos of the accident scene, but a lot of debris has been cleaned up and moved around.

    However, I did see one photo prior to the accident that made it appear as though the one-story building that was to be saved was connected to the four-story building that they were taking down by a common wall of structural brick. So that would mean the three stories of that common wall had to come down while preserving the first story of it. And it had to be done without dropping any debris onto the one-story building that was to be saved.

    If I was seeing it right, the photo showed the common wall still standing two or three stories above the thrift store. That wall appeared to be completely free-standing with all of the floors and the roof of the four-story building removed. What was their plan to take down that last portion of the tall wall? I cannot imagine nibbling away at it with the excavator and expecting every last bit to fall to the proper side. The slightest miscalculation might drop a couple tons two stories down and onto the roof of the occupied building.

    What would be the proper way to take down the big building while saving the thrift store? Seeing what they were doing, I cannot image that it would be acceptable to have the thrift store occupied during this high risk technique. I saw a Philadelphia official say that it is entirely proper and acceptable to have an occupied building next to one that is being demolished. Maybe so with a space between them and a barrier set up, but this looked as risky as riding a bicycle across the Grand Canyon on a wire. So I am wondering who is actually responsible for this accident.
     
  2. OldandWorn

    OldandWorn Senior Member

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    Messages:
    908
    Location:
    Md/Pa
    I saw the same prior photo and my jaw dropped. I wouldn't want to be near that thrift shop much less inside of it. What were these people thinking!
     
  3. Tracklayer

    Tracklayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    minnesota
    I don't know what the proper technique would have been for doing what they needed to accomplish there. Now, they are going to have a grand jury review it and look at the roles played by everyone including the public officials. I would think that somebody had to approve the plan.
     
  4. OldandWorn

    OldandWorn Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Just heard that the city inspector commited suicide. :(
     
  5. Tracklayer

    Tracklayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    minnesota
    I just saw that too. The city officials have seemed quite devensive about their role, and super agressive in blaming this accident on the operator without any explanation of how the accident happened. I get the impression that they have some responsibility in connection with their approval of the plan. The inspector has just committed suicide, and nothing has been said about any evidence that the act was connected to the demolition accident. Nevertheless, city officials seem more defensive than ever, insisting that the inspector had done nothing improper in relation to the demolition project. Clearly they see a connection between the suicide and the inspector's role in the accident, and they are fighting to vindicate the inspector. But the problem they now have is that if the inspector did committ suicide due to guilt over some kind of negligence, the act of suicide seems to be a powerful validation of the negligence.

    Meanwhile, it is impossible to get any clear indication from the news coverage about exactly what happened. I find more information in the comments that people post after each article.
     
  6. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    Location:
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    The inspector recorded a cell phone video before he shot himself. He never got out of his car to inspect the demolition job after there had been complaints from the public. He signed off on it without doing his job. The man was too lazy to do his job and too cowardly to answer for his negligence.
     
  7. Tracklayer

    Tracklayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    minnesota
    Well that proves that the inspector committed suicide because of guilt for not doing his job which resulted in six deaths. That seems to undermine the Mayor's assertion that the inspector did nothing wrong. The link I found would not play the video, but it did say that the contractor left a four-story wall standing without any side support, and that wall fell onto the thrift store. I get the impression that the contractor simply did not know how to deal with that wall, so he left it until the very end.