Robert J. Mongeluzzi said the citations issued today by the U.S. Department of Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) further validate that the June 5th fatal Salvation Army Thrift Store collapse was entirely preventable and those responsible for the deaths of six individuals must be held accountable. “The finding of willful violations – the harshest OSHA penalty -against the demolition contractors Campbell Construction (Griffin Campbell) and S&R Contracting (Sean Benschop), leave no doubt that this catastrophe was caused by an utter lack of planning over months. The citations against the contractors in no way diminish the responsibility of STB investments, Inc. or the Salvation Army who mutually acknowledged the danger of a collapse before the tragedy.” OSHA concluded that the wall that fell and killed six was in an open and obvious, illegal condition for at least three (3) days before the collapse, and would have been apparent to STB’s owner who witnesses have placed at the scene on the day of the collapse.
In addition, previously released e-mails establish that the Salvation Army made a decision to keep its thrift store open to customers despite knowing there was a substantial risk to “life and limb”. Sworn testimony of Salvation Army thrift store employees in depositions taken by OSHA as part of its investigation state that “the roof is going to fall in one day,” “imagine this will fall on us”, and “I figured that our employer, Salvation Army, would have our best interest for us and our customers and let us know, listen, they are doing demolition. It’s severe. We are going to close the store down and send you to other stores until the demolition is done. That wasn’t the case.”
The role of STB, the Salvation Army, and all those responsible for this tragedy will increasingly be made clear as the investigations and legal process unfold.