Richard Basciano

Woman Who Survived Hours Trapped in Salvation Army Collapse Dies of COVID-19

Mariya Plekan lost both of her legs in the 2013 catastrophe in Center City, Philadelphia, that killed seven others. She was rescued from the rubble and eventually awarded the largest settlement in state history.

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Mariya Plekan, who survived 13 hours trapped under rubble in the 2013 Salvation Army collapse, but lost both legs and received the largest settlement in state history, died Friday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Plekan, 59, often shopped at the thrift store on Market Street. She immigrated from Ukraine years ago, and raised her children in the United States.

She miraculously survived the catastrophe on June 5, 2013 while seven others were killed in a construction mishap that later led to criminal convictions of two workers taking part in a demolition project next to the Salvation Army store and a record $227 million settlement.

Despite losing both legs, Plekan testified at the monthslong 2017 civil trial against the construction contractor, the Salvation Army organization and real estate developer Richard Basciano. Plekan appeared in the courtroom many days during the five-month trial at City Hall in Philadelphia.

She was awarded $95 million of the settlement awarded to a total of 19 people and families of those killed. Plekan's settlement was the largest ever in Pennsylvania.

"Mariya was a very kind, energetic person who was deeply devoted to her family," her attorney, Andrew J. Stern, told NBC10 on Monday. "Her will to survive and love of life is inspirational."

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported Plekan's death. She is survived by a daughter and a son.

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