By Carol Erickson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Victim Juanita Harmin loved to travel and shop. She is the mother of four grown sons and a retired secretary from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Wednesday morning she made the fateful decision to go shopping.
At the scene of the disaster and miles beyond, the tragic “ifs” have started. What if the building hadn’t collapsed. What if it hadn’t been Wednesday when so many shoppers check out the new merchandise. What if Juanita Harmon had not been in the store.
The day after, the reality of the disaster ripples directly to the 75-year-old woman’s Oxford Street neighborhood.
“When you’ve never known someone to die of something horrific like that, I just can’t imagine,” said Margaret Young.
Young spent a lot of time with Juanita Harmin over the years. So did Ida Flanders, a 40-year friend and neighbor.
“It’s unbelievable, because I just saw her, she walks her dog up and down the block almost every day,” said Flanders.
At Mrs. Harmon’s house, her little dog Cocoa with family members stunned by the death of the vibrant, kind woman.
“She was a wonderful person, very wonderful person,” said Mona Singletary.
“She was a very sweet person. she’s my mother-in-law,” said Alyssa Harmin. “It’s just really hard on the family right now.”
Her older son Andre consoled by a neighbor wanted to share that his mom often shopped at the Salvation Army thrift store to find him and his three brothers special items. Her death in the rubble of the collapsed building incomprehensible to all who knew her.
“Certain people deserve certain things in life, and what she deserved she didn’t get,” said Michael Morgan, a friend of Mrs. Harmin.
Juanita Harmon’s family is processing, or at least attempting to process their grief at this point.