Philadelphia

Building Collapses, Debris Falls on School Bus in Old City

A building under demolition partially collapsed at a construction site at 5th and Race streets in Philadelphia's Old City Thursday morning sending debris onto a yellow school bus.

As SkyForce10 hovered overhead shortly after the collapse around 9 a.m. you could see a large slab of concrete that appeared to fall from a construction site and a light pole and tree on top of the bus.

Bus driver Spencer Reynolds had just dropped off students from Vernfield Elementary School in the Souderton School District at the nearby National Constitution Center and was sitting in traffic when the debris began the rain down.

"Glass all over the seats, I had stones flying all over the steering wheel while I was getting out of the way," said Reynolds.

Another bus would pick up the students from their field trip.

Most of the building slab fell on a section of street blocked off by a fence and barriers. The bus was alongside the barrier when it was struck.

Race Street remained closed as crews investigated. Philadelphia police said the construction company, Garnet Valley-based Cider Mill Services, had safety measures in place.

Licenses and Inspections would determine what led to the collapse that occurred on the backside of the building that is closer to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. OSHA investigators also arrived on the scene Thursday morning.

"It is impossible not to view today's collapse in the context of the June , 2013 fatal Salvation Army building collapse," said attorney Bob Mongeluzzi who represents victims and their families in a civil suit against the Salvation Army, developer Richard Basciano and his company. Six people died and 13 were injured when Basciano's building, which was under demolition, came crashing down on top of the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

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"Today's building collapse serves as the latest stark reminder that Philadelphia and Safety are clearly not synonymous when it comes to building demolition safety," said Mongeluzzi. He urged the City to redouble efforts to enforce tougher demolition safety standards to protect workers and the public, and to hold the people responsible for disasters fully accountable.

L&I had been to the site of Thursday's collapse 18 times since early January -- most recently two days ago -- and a proper collapse zone was established around the demolition site, said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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