Woman trapped 9 hours in partial building collapse is freed

APTOPIX Partial Building Collapse_415228

A man is helped by emergency personnel after he was rescued from a partially collapsed building, Wednesday July 12, 2017, in Washington, Pa. (Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter via AP)

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) — A woman who was trapped for more than nine hours near a refrigerator and underneath other debris after parts of two floors in her dilapidated apartment building collapsed has been rescued.

The collapse was reported Wednesday morning at a three-story building housing a barbershop on the first floor and apartments above it in Washington, about 25 miles (about 40 kilometers) southwest of Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that crews punched through a wall and debris to save the woman Wednesday evening. Officials earlier said crews were hampered by the precarious nature of the building and had to dig through a large amount of debris.

Washington County’s director of public safety, Jeff Yates, said the woman was either near or under a refrigerator and in a relatively safe spot and crews had been able to speak to her. Officials said she was conscious and alert and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Two other people were earlier taken to a hospital for treatment.

Resident Edward Cook told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he ran for his life when he heard the building collapse, something he predicted as he and a friend played video games.

“I was telling my buddy, ‘Someday, this place is going to collapse,'” Cook told the newspaper.

Moments later, it did.

City officials and residents said property owners Mark and Melissa Russo had been warned about the building’s dilapidated condition.

The Russos were cited in March after tenants complained about a wall the city building inspector said was “cracked, not structurally sound.” City code enforcement officer Ron McIntyre said the citation was one of several issued to the “nuisance property” in recent years.

The Russos have pleaded not guilty and face a hearing July 18 on the March citation, which carries a $100 fine if they’re convicted. They could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

The city obtained an emergency order from a county judge to raze the building.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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