Lawyer: Building Owners Not To Blame For Collapse, Tenants Misinformed About Prior Issues

Collapse Victim & Family Not Ready To Accept Insurance Investigator's Findings

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — More than a month after an apartment building collapsed in Washington County trapping a woman in rubble for hours, investigators say they finally know the cause.

Since the collapse on July 12, the lawyer for the owners of the building say her clients have been demonized, criminalized and called slumlords.

KDKA’s Marty Griffin Reports —

“This only came about after the collapse. Then, all of the sudden, everything was wrong,” said attorney Elizabeth Tarasi. “A crack in the window, they got a citation. A dumpster not being in the proper place on the property, a citation.”

Tarasi also says Mark and Melissa Russo are not to blame for the collapse.

mark russo Lawyer: Building Owners Not To Blame For Collapse, Tenants Misinformed About Prior Issues

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

She says an investigator for the couple’s insurance company blames the weight of water pooling on the flat roof of the building located on North Main Street in the City of Washington.

According to the attorney, the water came from a downspout on an adjacent building, and that was draining onto their roof.

Tarasi: “The weight of the water is the reason for the collapse.”

KDKA’s Marty Griffin: “Nothing else?”

Tarasi: “That I have been told, nothing else.”

“The building beside the Russo building had the drain, the down spouts ran off the roof down the side and just ended, so all the water was pouring onto the Russo roof, and with the rain water combined with the extra water there, it just caused too much weight on the roof, and boom, it went down,” Tarasi added.

Griffin: “Weren’t there a compilation of things with this building?”

Tarasi: “No.”

Griffin: “So, all the stories the folks living there suggested there were issues prior, they’re false?”

Tarasi: “Yes.”

Griffin: “So, everyone is lying that lived there?”

Tarasi: “No, they’re not lying, they’re just misinformed.”

One of the people living in the building was 37-year-old Megan Angelone. After the collapse, she was trapped under a refrigerator for nine hours in her third-floor apartment until crews could free her by cutting an 18-inch hole into a wall.

Angelone’s mother tells KDKA that her daughter is still in the hospital. She has undergone about 30 procedures on her legs and hips.

The other day, she had some surprise visitors.

Lisa Gresh, Angelone’s aunt, said Thursday night, “Some first responders came to see her last week, and they said they trained for years for a catastrophe like this, and Megan was their first. She said, ‘They saved my life.'”

Angelone still isn’t able to walk or get out of bed, but her mother says she stood up with the help of a therapist the other day. Once she gets out of UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, she will have to go to an inpatient rehab facility.

Gresh told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “She was able to get out of bed Thursday and sit in a chair. She’s happy about that because she was never one to sit around. She was able to stand a little bit, with help.”

Angelone’s family is not ready to accept the insurance investigator’s findings.

Gresh reacted to the report, saying, “It doesn’t make any sense. It had to be going on for years, wouldn’t you think for it to cause all that damage.”

Because of Angelone’s long hospital stay, friends have set up a GoFundMe account on her behalf. It’s called “Miracle of Megan.

If you would like to donate, you can visit the page at this link: https://www.gofundme.com/miracle-of-angel-one

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