The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 17, 2014

Roof collapse kills man

FALLENTIMBER — A 70-year-old White Township man died Saturday when the roof of a trailer he was tearing down collapsed at a trailer park in Fallentimber, authorities said.

Cambria County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Lees pronounced the man dead at 1:48 p.m. inside Zimmie’s Family Camping on Marina Road near Glendale Lake.

At the coroner’s request, The Tribune-Democrat is withholding the man’s name until relatives are notified.

An autopsy is scheduled today at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, Lees said. The death appears to be accidental, he said.

Two men were tearing down the abandoned trailer when 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of steel and wood came down, Lees said.

“The cribbing that was being used to hold up the roof gave way,” he said. “The roof collapsed on our deceased.”

The second man escaped injury.

The two men were tearing down the remains of an old single-family trailer with a porch attached.

Workers had previously gutted the structure and all that remained was the roof, its support, and some flooring.

“I was taking screws out of the aluminum and then I went around to help him get the floorboard up,” Barry Gates said after being interviewed by a state trooper.

“We got it up and I took a load of junk to the Dumpster, and when I turned around, it came down,” Gates said.

Neighbors scrambled to the scene.

“Some lady came running in screaming (he) was underneath,” said Ted Cochran, owner of Sharon’s Pizza Parlor.

“I and a bunch of other people lifted the structure up to get him out, but he was already dead,” Cochran said.

Firefighters from Glendale and Patton were at the scene along with a Patton EMS crew, Lees said.

State police from the Ebensburg barracks and the coroner’s office are investigating the cause.

Gates said he believes the wind brought down the structure that killed his friend.

Peak wind gusts were estimated at 25 mph, Lees said.

A hand drill and other tools lay in the debris. Yellow tape cordoned off the area.

“I worked in the mines for 23 years and seen a lot,” said Cochran, examining the rubble.

“He must have been killed instantly,” he said. “Everything happened so quick.”

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on twitter.com/PatBuchnowskiTD.

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