WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA/AP) — After nearly 10-hours, emergency crews were able to rescue a woman trapped in a partial building collapse in Washington County.
Megan Angelone’s brother said she was in surgery Wednesday night and they’re not sure how she’ll recover until she comes out of it.
“They have to cut her to relieve pressure from her legs. If it was any longer she’d have lost her legs,” Matthew Angelone said.
He thanked the more than 100 firefighters, EMT’s and other rescue crews who worked to free his sister Wednesday.
The collapse was first reported around 8:30 a.m. on North Main Street in the City of Washington.
Photos taken by Pennsylvania Emergency Management photographer Mike Haritan show just how frantic the rescue was.
A hole was cut into a wall, barely 18-inches wide that crews used to squeeze Megan Angelone through. Angelone had just moved into the apartment two-weeks ago.
“We stayed with her the whole time except during the secondary collapse, we stayed talking with her, holding her hand, giving her oxygen, fluids and we kept communicating with her the whole time,” PA Strike Team One Chief Alan Housman said.
Photos also show a white box through the hole rescuers used, that is the refrigerator that kept two floors of the building from crushing Megan.
“She was very calm and speaking very clearly, I can’t believe she is alive,” Washington County Public Safety Director Jeff Yates said.
Megan’s boyfriend was also at home during the collapse, he was able to get out with minor injuries. She has two sons who thankfully were not home at the time of the collapse.
“They finally freed her, they used a couple hydraulic tools and some small airbags that lifted the refrigerator and part of the debris from her body,” Chief Housman said.
The growing crowd cheered when Angelone was finally freed after nearly ten-hours.
The building housed a business on the first floor, a barbershop, and apartments on the floors above.
According to the police chief, Angelone became stuck in her fourth floor apartment. She was the only resident who got trapped in the building, everyone else made it out.
“It was like an earthquake, as soon as I opened the door, all the smoke just blew me back,” resident Edward Cook said.
KDKA’s Amy Wadas has more on how Megan Angelone is doing:
People who live in the apartment say it all happened very fast. One woman said it sounded like thunder.
“They were hollering the wall was falling, bricks were falling, so everybody ran down the steps to North Main. Within 30 seconds, a minute, it was pitch black,” said Dennis McCullough, a third floor resident.
Several people were able to make it out on their own, but emergency crews had to help five people out of the building.
“I started to see cracks in the wall probably about a week ago, and then this morning, I heard bricks falling from the third floor and hitting that metal piece,” said Bradford Nickel, who lives on the second floor. “We heard this loud noise and I was like, ‘Guys, we have to get out of here.’”
One woman who lived there with her kids was not at home at the time of the collapse, but she was worried about her mom.
“I thought my mom was still in there and it scared me,” said Kaylee.
Another resident was rescued and flown to an unspecified hospital. Eight people lived in the building.
Officials have not yet said what caused the collapse.
However, Washington County officials tell KDKA’s Brenda Waters that the building’s landlord, Mark Russo, has been cited before this collapse. According to court records, Russo was cited by Municipal Code Enforcement back in March.
KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland has more on the landlord of the building who has been cited in the past:
“The accessory structure violation was the bricks falling off the building, that’s what he was cited for back in March, that’s what we had him going to court for Tuesday. He also had a dumpster that was overflowed, that he just recently got cleaned up there,” Washington Code Enforcement Officer Rob McIntyre said.
Building owner Mark Russo says there were some bricks that fell from the building but that it appeared to be heat related.
Russo says a contractor came over the weekend and replaced some of the bricks, and had to order others because the original bricks shattered.
“This is a privately-owned building and the property owner has been cited many, many times,” said Washington Public Safety Director Monda Williams. “In fact, we are scheduled to be in court next week with this property owner regarding this property and many others.”
A tenant also reported a crack in the wall and Russo was given 60 days to fix it, and he claims he fixed it twice.
I am surprised at what happened today because I was not aware of the severity of what was being cited,” Councilwoman Williams said.
A Washington code enforcement officer called it a “nuisance property.”
Russo says he had the foundation recently inspected by an independent contractor who didn’t find anything.
The city has been granted an emergency demolition order to demolish the building immediately.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)