Partial Building Collapse Hits School Bus

MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016

Authorities in Philadelphia are investigating what caused a building under demolition to partially collapse Thursday (March 17) striking a tree, street lamp and school bus.

No one was injured in the incident that occurred at approximately 9 a.m. in the city’s Old City District, according to authorities.

Just minutes before the driver said he had dropped off a group of fifth-grade students at the nearby National Constitutional Center for a field trip, reports relate. Only the bus driver, Spencer Reynolds, was in the vehicle at the time.

Police said during the demolishing project, led by Cider Mill Services, of Garnet Valley, a second floor support beam collapsed into a wall (measuring 8 feet by 15 feet) causing it to tumble onto the street and sidewalk below.

“The wall also knocked over a tree and a street light at this location; the tree and light came to rest against a school bus that was stopped in front of the site,” Tanya Little, a police officer with the Philadelphia Police Department, told D+D News.

‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’

The bus driver told media outlets he was “at the wrong place at the wrong time,” the Philly Voice reported.

Reynolds told media outlets that he heard rumbling and saw dust before the collapse.

“Glass all over the seats, I had stones flying all over the steering wheel while I was getting out of the way,” he told NBC 10.

He said if the children had been on board, "it wouldn't have been good," according to

However, investigators have maintained that all the building debris fell inside the safety zone of the site.

The building, a former Whitman Chocolate factory, is being demolished to make way for a four-story, 216-unit apartment complex, reports relate. Demolition work at the site had been ongoing since January, according to authorities.

Cause Probed

An official cause of the collapse had not been reported as of Friday (March 18) morning.

The city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections told an ABC news bureau that department officials were trying to determine what triggered the collapse.

They are also reviewing the traffic safety plan in place for the demolition site in order to see whether the street that the bus was on was supposed to be closed off at that time, ABC 7 reported.

City records further indicated that the project team had submitted a demolition plan and had obtained required permits.

Meanwhile, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has also launched its own investigation into the incident.

By rush hour on Thursday, the street had been reopened for traffic.

Collapse: A Reminder

For some, the collapse brought back memories of the June 6, 2013, demolition collapse that killed six and injured 13 in the Philadelphia city center.

"It is impossible not to view [the recent] collapse in the context of the June 2013 fatal Salvation Army building collapse," an attorney who represents victims and their families in a civil suit against the Salvation Army, developer Richard Basciano and his company, told NBC 10.

Basciano's building, which was under demolition, came crashing down on top of the next door Salvation Army Thrift Store.

The demolition contractor and excavator operator have been convicted and will spend years in prison for the roles they played in the deadly collapse.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Certifications and standards; Construction; Demolition; Government; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; OSHA; Renovation

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