Parents of Woman Killed in Center City Building Collapse Call for Tighter Regulation

There was heart-wrenching testimony today in City Council as the parents of one of the victims of the Market Street building collapse testified about the need for improvements at the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I).

Testifying was Nancy Winkler, the city treasurer, and her husband, structural engineer Jay Bryan. Their daughter Anne and five others died in the Salvation Army Thrift Shop last June when a neighboring demolition went awry.

“Who could ever have expected their 24-year-old child to leave the house one bright, sunny, June morning and then be killed under the rubble of a collapsed store?” Winkler asked.

Winkler and Bryan made clear that they view the failings of L&I to stop the demolition as part of the tragedy.

“This was not a freak accident,” Winkler said. “It was strictly a case of when that wall was going to come crashing down. Not if. It was a case of who would be killed, not if anyone would be killed.”

Bryan said that standards should be imposed on the position of L&I commissioner:

“Just as the police commissioner is a law enforcement professional and the fire commissioner a firefighting professional, the L&I commissioner should be a construction professional in order to insure an intimate knowledge of the industry he is responsible for policing.”

The testimony came as the councilmembers, voting at the committee level, approved the fourth of five measures that stem from their probe of the city’s demolition process. Three were approved last week. This measure codifies many of the actions that Mayor Nutter took by executive action shortly after the collapse.

The fifth bill is hung up over a proposal that all demolition workers obtain a city-issued photo ID, which some lawmakers oppose. That measure will be debated Thursday afternoon.

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