Poor demolition work reportedly went uninspected for more than three weeks before the deadly collapse of a building in Philadelphia, raising questions about the city's regulatory process.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Mayor Michael Nutter and Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Carlton Williams said Thursday that the city had granted a demolition permit for the project at 22nd and Market streets without any inquiry into the contractor's qualifications for demolition work. The city does not require demolition contractors to establish their qualifications.
Six people were killed and 14 others were injured on Wednesday when a four-story brick wall fell onto an adjoining single-story Salvation Army thrift shop.
The Griffin Campbell Construction Co., licensed for the first time in January, ignored basic industry standards, set forth by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requiring lateral bracing for exterior walls and gradual, floor-by-floor removal of upper stories, the newspaper reports.
An although the city began fielding resident complaints about the Center City project as early as May 7, city inspectors reported no problems at a May 14 visit and did not follow up. Williams told reporters Thursday that the city typically does not inspect demolition work in progress, waiting until projects are completed before surveying the sites for rubble removal, grading, and elimination of any holes or other hazards.
Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, said the city relied on OSHA to look into safety issues at active demolition sites.
For a second day in a row, a Florida judge is weighing whether to allow certain voice experts to testify at the trial of a neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson is listening Friday to testimony from voice experts about whether witnesses with expertise in speech identification should be allowed to testify when George Zimmerman's trial starts next week.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during a struggle in a gated community. He is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
Neighbors called 911 during the fight and cries for help can be heard on the recordings.
Martin's family claim the cries came from the teen while Zimmerman's father has testified they were those of his son.