“I think that before we do anything, before we rush to any judgment about how to fix what happened, we have to have all the facts,” said Steven Lakin, executive managing director of the General Building Contractors Association, a trade group representing Philadelphia-area contractors. “Everybody wants to regulate demolition contractors, but I’m not so sure that’s the answer.”
Lawyers for the two survivors who have sued accuse demolition contractor Griffin Campbell — who has a criminal background and has filed for bankruptcy twice — of violating federal safety regulations. They say building owner Richard Basciano should have picked a more qualified and competent contractor to do the work.
No one answered the phone at a listing for Campbell on Saturday, and the voice mailbox was full.
Plaintiff Linda Bell, a 50-year-old mother of three, was shopping at the thrift store when the building came down on top of her. She fell into the basement and was covered by rubble for more than an hour.
“She’s still shook up real bad, sore, swollen up,” Bell’s brother, Keith Bell, told the AP on Friday. She’s also suffering mental anguish from “seeing other people getting killed,” he said.
Construction engineers have said the thrift store should have been evacuated during critical phases of the demolition project next door.
The Salvation Army was concerned enough about the demolition that its attorneys reached out to a lawyer for building owner STB Investments Corp., a company linked to prominent businessman and developer Richard Basciano.
“There was communication between The Salvation Army and the attorney of the neighboring building’s owner, pertaining to the demolition. The neighbor assured The Salvation Army that they would be taking proper precautions,” Maj. Robert W. Dixon, director of operations of The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia, said in a statement Friday afternoon.
“These discussions were never finalized,” he said.
Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania. Associated Press writer Keith Collins contributed to this report.
This photo provided by the Philadelphia Police Department via The Philadelphia Inquirer shows Griffin T. Campbell. A lawsuit has been filed against Campbell, the demolition contractor hired to demolish a building in Philadelphia, that collapsed Wednesday. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Police Department via The Philadelphia Inquirer)