NBC10 - Harry Hairston
A SEPTA bus that is traveling eastbound on Market Street from 23rd street headed toward 22nd Street captures the video of the Center City building collapse on June 5, 2013. NBC10's Harry Hairston reports.
After more than five months of undergoing multiple surgeries, the final survivor to be pulled from the rubble of the Center City building collapse alive, Mariya Plekan, has been discharged from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania according to Kline & Specter attorney Andy Stern.
Stern says Plekan, who had both of her legs amputated as a result of injuries sustained in the collapse, was released from the hospital yesterday. According to Stern, Plekan has shown tremendous strength and is now on the road to full recovery.
“She really is an unusual survivor,” Stern said. “It’s remarkable what she has done to survive and to fight for her life.”
Plekan was shopping in the Salvation Army Thrift Store at 22nd and Market Street on the morning of June 5, when an adjacent building under demolition collapsed into the store, pinning her under mounds of debris for more than 12 hours. Six people died in the collapse. Plekan is one of 13 people who were injured but survived.
Stern filed a lawsuit against the Salvation Army, and several other parties involved in the collapse on behalf of Plekan in August. A judge later put all lawsuits resulting from the collapse on hold indefinitely pending the conclusion of the criminal grand jury investigation.
Due to the grave nature of her injuries, Stern filed a motion in August asking the judge to have Plekan’s testimony preserved before trial. Having been through numerous bouts with infection, as well as heart and kidney problems related to her injuries, Plekan has been unable to provide her testimony.
Stern says Plekan is now in rehabilitation and may be well enough to provide her testimony as soon as next week.
“Up until now, she hasn’t been physically capable of doing it. Most of the time, she’s had difficulty speaking. But she’s stronger, so I’m hoping she’ll be in the position to give her trial testimony next week. This is just so that, in the event that something happens, she can tell her story. She has an excellent memory of what happened,” Stern said.
Plekan’s hospital release came just as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its first citations regarding the building collapse this morning.
OSHA proposed nearly $400,000 in penalties and issued construction safety citations to Griffin Campbell and Sean Benschop for violations stemming from the June collapse.
Stern said OSHA’s findings were "a step in the right direction’ but said he’s hopeful that the agency will also acknowledge The Salvation Army, and the building owner, developer Richard Basciano and his company STB Investments’ roles in the collapse.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction but they’re finding what we knew all along, that these were egregious and willful violations,” he said. “I’m looking forward to OSHA’s findings regarding the other individuals.”
OSHA has until December 5 to issue citations to additional parties involved in the collapse.
Plekan is a widow who came to the United States from the Ukraine nearly 12 years ago to care for an ailing relative. Stern says her two children, Andrew and Natalie (pictured right), have been very supportive throughout Plakan's recovery process; flying back and forth from their homes in the Ukraine to care for their mother.
Stern says Plekan's health outlook is good.
"She's gonna face many challenges, but her doctor has given the opinion that it is probable that she could have a normal life expectancy, in terms of longevity of her life."