Building Collapse News: Demolition Contractor Appears to Be Just Some Guy With a Criminal Record Who Was Staggeringly Negligent

We now know that the demolition contractor was Griffin-Campbell Construction, and that the architect Platos Marinakos Jr., who filed the demolition permits, was only hired to expedite the process, according to L&I. We also know, thanks to the Inquirer, that “Griffin-Campbell Construction” might simply be some guy living in North Philly–a guy put on probation for insurance fraud and theft by deception two years after he was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and making terroristic threats. Suffice to say, he probably didn’t run the most professional concern.

The Inquirer quotes a variety of people who noticed the job was all wrong:

At the collapse site, a neighboring architect said it appeared that demolition crews had left a wall unsupported next to the Salvation Army thrift shop.

“I actually saw it and said it doesn’t look safe,” said architect Joseph Sulvetta, whose office is nearby. “A two-story wall looming over a one-story building doesn’t look safe.”

Dan Gillis, 31, a construction worker from Cinnaminson, was on a piece of equipment working on windows on the second story of a building directly across the street where the structure was being demolished.

He said he had seen them ripping apart the building all week. Gillis said he did not see any bracing on the wall of the building that was being taken down.

“It was free standing,” he said. “It was waving back and forth. And boom! It went over on the people in the store.”

Steve Cramer and his crew of union carpenters were installing windows in an apartment above Trader Joe’s, right across the street from the collapsed building.

They said they thought trouble was inevitable when they saw the demolition crew using a machine to take the building down. That didn’t make sense for a building of that size: “It’s a total disregard for safety,” Cramer said.

“You’ve got to take it down small piece by by small piece,” said Cramer, of Carpenter’s Union Local 122. “Start at the top. Take the roof off,” he said.

“The wall that collapsed should have been braced,” said Cramer, who saw four people taken out of the Salvation Army store on stretchers.

Joe Hauser, a carpenter with Local 845 working with Cramer, was on a lift outside putting a window in, thinking that at lunch he’d go over and warn people to get out of the Salvation Army store.

The wall didn’t hold long enough for him to do that.

“I feel horrible about it,” said Hauser, of Collingdale. “What could I do other than watch?”

Brian Mullins, a construction worker who was working across the street, said he was suspicious of the way the demolition was being done.

“They weren’t doing it safe. They should have had cross support. The building was structurally unsound,” Mullins said.

Scott Shuster, who owns the building at 2200 Market, works in construction and saw the frantic rescue effort.

He said the building had been partially demolished earlier this week, and when he walked by something “didn’t look right.”

He called it “a man-made disaster.”

“I drove by it and looked at it. It didn’t look right,” he said. “You should leave support up for neighboring buildings. I didn’t see any.”

What a depressing litany.

Demolition contractor has criminal record