PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Six people were killed when a building being demolished collapsed Wednesday and nearly obliterated an adjacent Salvation Army thrift store.
The mayor’s office identified the victims as Anne Bryan, Roseline Conteh, Borbor Davis, Kimberly Finnegan, Juanita Harmin and Mary Simpson.
Here are their stories:
Bryan, 24, was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts who was described by teachers there as “dynamic, inquisitive and smart.”
Her family called her a talented art student and generous friend, sister and daughter.
“That she will not be here to continue to touch the lives of those around her is of intense pain to all of our family and her friends. This pain is fresh and it runs deep,” the family said in a statement that asked for privacy.
Bryan had been shopping at the thrift store.
Conteh, 52, a mother of nine, loved her family and bargain hunting, KYW-TV reported. She worked as a certified nursing assistant after coming to America from Sierra Leone, according to the station.
“It is a big sacrifice when we come to this country. They did not come to America to die,” said Josephine Lamin, Conteh’s niece.
Davis, 68, of Darby, was a Liberian immigrant who died working at the thrift store, unloading trucks, sorting donations and handling the cash register.
His stepdaughter called him a hardworking man and devoted husband to her mother, Maggie.
“He loved my mom so much,” said Maryann M. Mason, who said they’d been married several years. “They looked so good together.”
The Davises were fixing their home and had dreamed of returning to Liberia to live out their lives together.
“I don’t know why they took him from me,” Maggie Davis told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He was my husband, but he was my friend.”
Finnegan, 35, of Philadelphia, was working her first day at the downtown store after about a year at a Salvation Army shop in the city’s Roxborough neighborhood, where she lived. She was newly engaged, according to her brother, Jonathan Finnegan.
“The main thing, I think right now, is how incredibly happy she was,” the brother said.
Her fiance, Bob Coleman, proposed over Memorial Day weekend, his stepmother, Lorraine Coleman, told the Inquirer.
The couple began dating more than a year ago. “She loved life,” Lorraine Coleman said. “Kim was a giver.”
Harmon, who was in her 70s, was a mother, a grandmother and a retired secretary at the University of Pennsylvania, her neighbor Margaret Young told the Inquirer.
She often took her grandchildren to the zoo and cared for a dog from a shelter, Young said.
“The whole neighborhood is shocked and grieving,” she said.
Simpson, 24, graduated from the New England Institute of Art in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in audio media technology, the Inquirer reported. She was a top student, “as good or better than anyone there,” one of her professors, John Krivit, told the newspaper.
Simpson excelled in the classroom and was an accomplished figure skater in high school, those who knew her told the paper.
“Her drive, determination, and grace were best seen on the ice, where she competed as a figure skater,” said the Haverford High School principal, Jeffrey Nesbitt.
Lauren Gambescia, who grew up with Simpson, told the Inquirer her friend “didn’t have a mean bone in her body.”