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Grand Jury Investigating Philadelphia Building Collapse

A grand jury will be investigating and gathering evidence following last week’s deadly building collapse in Philadelphia. Six people were killed and 13 were injured Wednesday when a four-story building that was being demolished collapsed on a Salvation Army thrift store as people shopped.

Several civil lawsuits have already been filed in the wake of the tragic construction site accident, and it is possible that criminal charges could also be filed. According to a statement by the Philadelphia district attorney earlier today, the home of the contractor in charge of the demolition has been raided by police for potential evidence in a criminal case.

The DA asked Philadelphia to remain patient as the Grand Jury has been ordered to “investigate any and all actions they feel are appropriate as they’re gathering information.” The DA also said that while many Philadelphia residents already have an opinion as to who is responsible for the accident, his office said it will “not be a part of rush judgment.”

The DA added that the GRand Jury is a separate body, unaffiliated with the city, so people need not worry about a conflict of interest if the city does hold some responsibility.

According to a personal injury lawyer who specializes in construction accidents and is representing a number of accident victims, the demolition project was doomed from the start. He said the project “should have been demolished by hand” from the top floor down because of the way it was constructed. He said all buildings constructed before 1950 should be demolished this way.

It was also revealed that the operator of the backhoe who was knocking down the building had a lengthy criminal record and was using an alias. He now faces six charges of involuntary manslaughter and other related charges. Questions remain as to whether this individual will be taking the fall alone for the accident, or if others will be held criminally responsible as well.

No doubt, a lengthy investigation will follow.

Source: NBC Philadelphia, “Grand Jury to Investigate Building Collapse That Killed 6,” Karen Araiza, June 10, 2013