Worker Killed In Collapse At Church Demolition

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SWOYERSVILLE -- Officials now say a worker pulled from the rubble of a construction collapse has died.

It happened around 11:30 a.m. on Shoemaker Street in Swoyersville.

An already sad day in Luzerne County turned tragic as a church demolition resulted in a death.

Crews were tearing down the century-old St. Mary's Church on Shoemaker Street when a portion of it collapsed on the owner of the excavating company.

Brdaric Excavating was the company tearing down this church.

They had made a lot of headway and things were running smoothly until a large part of the building collapsed on the company's owner John Brdaric.

In cell phone video, you can see the final portion of the church, Holy Name/St. Mary's on Shoemaker Street collapsed backward, burying John Brdaric, the owner of the demolition company.

Brdaric was running the excavator at the time.

"I seen it wiggling and wiggling and wiggling, and I said to the one guy that was next to me, I said 'something's going to happen,'" said Ted Klem of Swoyersville.

Workers rushed to save Brdaric, pulling out brick after brick, using saws to free him from under the debris.

Brdaric was taken to the hospital and later died.

Immediately after the collapse, neighbors, including Ted Klem, were holding out hope.

"For the church and that to happen, hopefully God will be with this guy."

It was already a sad day in Swoyersville, the end of an era for a century-old church that held memories for a lot of people in the area.

It's very, very hard to let go of that homestead that will now have to be in all our hearts," said Fr. Joe Pisaneschi.

Brdaric excavating was well known in Luzerne County. Just about a month ago, they tore down a much larger building: the Hotel Sterling in Wilkes-Barre. The Sterling took a few days to demolish and was done without a problem.

OSHA is now investigating the incident.

Work has stopped since the collapse happened.

Cell phone video of collapse: