Death toll for Market St. collapse may rise

CHARLES FOX / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The building collapse trapped Danny Johnson, who died weeks later.
CHARLES FOX / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The building collapse trapped Danny Johnson, who died weeks later.
Posted: July 24, 2014

MORE THAN a year after a botched demolition on Market Street turned tragic, the official death toll may go up by one.

Six people died and 14 more were injured in the immediate aftermath of the June 5, 2013, catastrophe, in which an unsupported wall from the demolition site fell onto an open Salvation Army store next door and crushed those inside.

Yesterday, the widow of Danny Johnson, a shopper who was trapped under the rubble and died 23 days later, filed a wrongful-death suit against the property owner, contractor, architect and excavator operator of the demolition, as well as the Salvation Army.

The suit says Johnson, 59, a truck driver and West Philadelphia resident, died of problems that resulted from injuries suffered in the building collapse on Market Street near 22nd.

Jeffrey P. Goodman, a lawyer for the firm Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, filed the suit for Bonnie Johnson, Danny's wife. They have five adult children.

"For more than three weeks after the collapse, Mr. Johnson was in and out of the hospital suffering from cardiac complications, pulmonary injuries and the crushing of his lower body," Goodman said in a statement. "Medical records and a forensic pathologist have confirmed his death was caused by those injuries in a preventable tragedy."

The estates of the other deceased victims, including Anne Bryan, the daughter of City Treasurer Nancy Winkler, have already sued many of the same parties.

Contractor Griffin Campbell and excavator operator Sean Benschop have been charged with manslaughter. There are no other related criminal cases.

The incident also apparently cost the life of Ronald Wagenhoffer, a city inspector tasked with the demolition project who committed suicide days after the collapse.

The city, although it is not being sued by the victims, was criticized for lax oversight of the demolition and has overhauled its regulations for demolition and construction projects.


On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout

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