In an act of heroism, bystander David Velazquez rescued a 68-year-old man and 69-year-old woman from a collapsed three-story building in Philadelphia.
David Velazquez wasted no time when he saw a collapsed three-story building in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Velazquez, who was driving through the area, sprung into action the instant he came across the rubble.
The good samaritan began calling out to the wreckage in hopes to locate any survivors. Amidst his calling, Velazquez heard a cry for help. “The first one that came out was an old man saying, ‘I’m back here.’ My first instinct was to just go in there,” explained the hero.
After locating a 68-year-old man, Velazquez rescued a 69-year-old woman who was trapped in the wreckage. “I tried to move this one beam, and as I moved this one beam, I felt rubble coming down,” an emotional Velazquez recalled. “I just gave her a kiss on the forehead and said ‘God be with us,’ and pulled her up.” He would go onto add that his actions were made possible, “by the grace of God.”
After being secured from the wreckage both the man and the woman were cognizant and mobile. The man and woman were transported to Temple University Hospital. It has been reported that the man acquired serious injuries from the collapse while the woman’s injuries were non-life-threatening.
According to police, the couple was in their second-story apartment when the structure tumbled. They informed officers, “they were the only ones inside that particular property when that property collapsed. They were also able to tell us they believe that the other two properties that collapsed are vacant.”
The building was comprised of three stories, with a storefront at the street level and two floors of apartments that accounted for the rest of the building. A neighboring structure, which was also three stories, was one of the two vacant buildings that fell. Structural details on the third unit remain unclear.
In an interview with NBC 10 News of Philadelphia, a witness recalled observing the building tumble and becoming frightened. “So I’m just sitting here just watching it, my arms crossed, watching like, ‘alright the first building collapsed.’ And then the second one collapsed. So when the second one collapsed, I got kind of nervous. I’m like, ‘wait my car is parked across the street.’”
The cause of the building collapse is currently unknown and remains under investigation. One potential cause police are reportedly investigating is the severe rain from remnants of Hurricane Ida that struck the northeast. Emergency demolition will take place at some point on Friday.