By Mike Dunn and Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Shortly before the Philadelphia district attorney announced the indictment of a second person in last June’s deadly center city building collapse (see related story), attorneys for one of the victims released her heart-wrenching videotaped deposition.
Mariya Plekan, 52, was buried in the rubble of the collapse for hours, never losing consciousness, and later had half her body amputated.
“Can you please tell us what you remember about the collapse?”
With that question from attorney Andrew Stern, Ukraine native Mariya Plekan recounted 13 hours underneath the rubble, calling for help and fearing for her life.
“The roof went down and the only thing I had a chance to say was, ‘Why?’ — and the roof collapsed,” Plekan said through an interpreter. “The beam was a little bit above me so I could move, and my limbs, my legs were pinned down.”
But the hours went on, and Plekan was not noticed by rescue workers.
“I had to hope that they will save me shortly, but it didn’t happen,” Plekan testified. “I was there for a long time, I was screaming, ‘Help, help,’ but nobody heard me.
“And I was praying, praying, ‘God help me,’ so I could be found.”
Finally, after nightfall, a search dog sensed her presence.
“And the dog was barking, and I was screaming ‘Help!’ I was so happy that I was saved, and I didn’t know my legs were bad at that time.”
(Stern:) “Are you aware that you buried under that rubble for about thirteen hours?”
(Plekan:) “And I was scared, I was so scared.”
(Stern:) “Were you fully conscious the entire time you were under that rubble?”
Doctors later amputated the lower portion of her body. She is now suing the Salvation Army, the demolition contractor, and others.
Hear Mariya Plekan’s deposition in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 7:16)…
Read the Transcript (.pdf)
In September, a city judge overseeing all the civil litigation allowed the deposition because Stern wanted to record her testimony in case she later died from the injuries. The injuries are no longer considered life-threatening.
Plekan was asked if the injuries are still painful, and she replied yes — to her body and to her soul.