By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The elderly real estate speculator at the heart of the deadly Salvation Army Thrift Store collapse in Philadelphia has died in New York. Seven people died and 12 were injured in the 2013 disaster at 22nd and Market Streets.

When 91-year-old Richard Basciano was called to testify as the lead defendant in the civil trial, he hobbled to the witness stand with a cane in one hand, along with an aide steadying him.

The frail Basciano used headphones to listen to questions, and he had an emotional meltdown, when pressed on the events leading to the disaster.

Jury Finds Defendants Liable In Deadly Salvation Army Thrift Store Collapse

Defense attorney Thomas Sprague represented Basciano. Reflecting on his passing, Sprague says Basciano “had a very big heart.”

“And I know that his concern about the accident, and his concern for the people who were killed and seriously injured weighed upon him very much, and no doubt took its toll on his own health,” said Sprague.

In February, the jury that heard the five-month long case found all defendants liable, after just four hours of deliberations.

$227 Million Settlement Reached In Deadly Salvation Army Store Collapse

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 is paying out the bulk of the damages, and now Basciano’s estate is obliged to pay the rest.

More From CBS Philly

Full Cosby Coverage
Latest Forecast

Watch & Listen LIVE