Saturday, November 8, 2014

Newtown man seriously hurt in Bristol building collapse

Posted: Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A 58-year-old Newtown man was seriously injured Wednesday morning after a partial building collapse at a fire-damaged historic Bristol house plunged him two stories onto the sidewalk and buried him under debris.
The accident sent chunks of brick and wood across Mulberry Street where it intersects with Radcliffe Street, according to witnesses. Neighbors who live blocks away say they not only heard the collapse, but felt it.
“It felt like when a truck passes next to you,” said Jeremy Coombs, a volunteer firefighter who lives two blocks away from the crash site on Mulberry Street.
Coombs said his girlfriend, who was on her way to work, was at a stop sign at Radcliffe and Mulberry streets when the building came down. Her car was damaged by falling bricks. And she then heard a man, who is believed to be the injured man’s son and was also working at the house, screaming and pulling debris off the other man.
After receiving a call from his girlfriend, Coombs said he raced to the scene to help the injured man, whom he said was unconscious and bleeding profusely.
“The son started praying over him,” he said.
Borough resident Maiki DeJesus was walking home with her son after a doctor’s appointment when she heard people yelling, “Oh My God.” She looked up and saw the walls on the side of the bay area pull away from the building then drop while a man was standing on top.
“I saw everything come down with the guy,” she said.
The injured worker — identified as Meny Moore — is also a co-owner of the property. He was using a reciprocating saw on top of an overhang bay area, which faced Mulberry Street, when it collapsed around 10 a.m. taking the structure and part of the brick wall with it, according to witnesses.
Moore was rushed to Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township and then airlifted to Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. His condition was unknown as of late Wednesday, according to borough police Chief Arnold Porter.
No other buildings were damaged and no other injuries were reported, Porter said.
Borough officials evacuated a neighboring home at 309 Radcliffe St. as a precaution, and the remainder of the collapsed building will be demolished as soon as possible, borough Manager James Dillon said. The 300 block of Radcliffe Street will remain closed to traffic between Market and Walnut streets as will Mulberry Street between Cedar and Radcliffe streets until at least Thursday, Dillon said.
“In the condition it is now, it can’t stand there for a long period of time,” Porter said.
It’s unclear when the property was last inspected for its structural stability. Borough officials said inspections are done, as necessary, after building and construction permits are issued.
Moore and Shimon Guy, of Delaware County, purchased the property for $130,000 in October 2013 from borough council President Ralph DiGuiseppe, according to county property records.
The once three-story, circa-1875 building, which had previously housed apartment units, has been vacant since an October 2010 arson fire left it heavily damaged and uninhabitable. Three days after the Oct. 1 fire, the borough ordered the third-floor roof removed by Oct. 12, 2010, records show.
The property had become an eyesore, with neighbors complaining about its condition in 2012, according to documents filed with the borough. The complaints prompted the municipality to send then-property owner Pat Picariello a letter asking him if he planned to reconstruct the building or raze it, according to borough documents.
DiGuiseppe paid $25,000 for the property in November 2012 with the intention to raze the remaining structure and build three townhouses, a plan that was later reduced to two units, according to county and borough records. DiGuiseppe on Wednesday evening said that he sold the property because he was too busy at work and he didn’t want it to sit as an eyesore.
In recent weeks, nearby residents of Mulberry Street say they noticed building supplies and materials delivered to the property, which is described in records as twin brownstones.
The renovation work began during the last week after the owners picked up a construction permit for roof work, according to borough building records. Permits filed with the borough list Moore as the property owner and principal contractor. Moore picked up the permit for the third-floor roof Oct. 27, according to the borough building and zoning office.
In May, the borough approved a construction permit to frame the fire-damaged third floor and to install a mansard roof as approved by the borough’s historic review board and council. Documents filed with the borough indicate the new owners planned to renovate the building to house two single family townhouses in the existing building footprint, as well as rebuild the third story.

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