Unveiling marks 5th anniversary of fatal Salvation Army Thrift Store collapse

'June 5th Memorial' sculpture remembers dead and injured at 22nd and Market streets.

Steve Tawa
June 05, 2018 - 2:48 pm
Former City Treasurer Nancy Winkler lost her 24-year-old daughter in the accident. She was instrumental in creating this memorial.

Steve Tawa | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The families who lost loved ones in the 2013 Salvation Army Thrift Store tragedy marked the fifth anniversary by unveiling a memorial sculpture at the collapse site at 22nd and Market streets in Center City Philadelphia.

The "June 5th Memorial" sculpture remembers the six people who died and the 13 who were hurt in the sudden building collapse. A seventh person died three weeks later. It happened while demolition operators were working next door to the thrift store. An unsupported wall towering over it flattened the store. Those who perished included shoppers and employees.

Former City Treasurer Nancy Winkler lost her 24-year-old daughter, Anne Bryan, who went shopping that day.

"The underlying cause of this tragedy was human, Winkler said. "Human greed, and outrageous disregard for the lives and safety of our fellow citizens."

Winkler started a petition drive to turn the disaster site into a public park. As she turned to face the memorial, she pointed out that the panels include six windows: "'One for each person killed on June 5."

At the top of a center panel, there is a seventh window.

"It is inscribed, 'For Those We Remember,'" Winkler said. "That seventh window is for all of us. It acknowledges that loss and trauma affects many, many people."

The families who lost loved ones in the 2013 Salvation Army Thrift Store tragedy marked the fifth anniversary by unveiling a memorial sculpture at the collapse site.
Steve Tawa | KYW Newsradio

Other families who lost loved ones say the memorial serves as a reminder to make safety the highest priority in Philadelphia construction projects.

A demolition contractor and his heavy equipment operator were criminally charged and convicted. Then a civil jury that heard a five-month-long case, the longest in Philadelphia court history, found all defendants liable, after just four hours of deliberation. 

A few days into the damages phase, lawyers announced a $227 million settlement, the largest personal injury payout in state court history. The Salvation Army was ordered to pay out the bulk of the damages, and the building owner was obliged to pay the rest.

One juror said at the time, "The disaster could have been avoided." Another juror said, "It was a sad case of putting profit before the human element."