Investigation Underway In Demolition Death

SWOYERSVILLE — Funeral arrangements have been made for the owner of an excavating company in Luzerne County killed Monday when part of a church that was being torn down fell on him.

At the same time, Newswatch 16 talked with federal investigators Tuesday who told us how they intend to find out what went wrong.

It was a different scene at Holy Name/St. Mary’s Church where demolition turned deadly on Monday.

Even though part of the church is still standing, crews were back clearing the site as officials from OSHA work to find out what may have caused John Brdaric’s death.

The demolition crew spent the morning clearing the space around the crushed excavator that Brdaric was operating.

Cell phone video shows the remaining portion of the church collapsing , killing Brdaric.

“It was incredible. To see the whole process take place and the wall come down on John. It just threw me for a loop,” said church caretaker Phil Bosha.

Despite the loss, workers have returned to the demolition site, trying to finish what they started. They didn’t want to speak to Newswatch 16 on camera, but told us it’s especially hard being there without their boss.

“I just can’t believe they’re working. They can’t even grieve, you know? That’s pretty nasty,” said Bill Wells of Swoyersville.

Federal safety officials say they’re investigating the incident, looking into engineering plans as well as Brdaric Excavating’s safety and health programs and employee training.

“The training for safety on the demolition site. We’re looking into the specifics for the demolition job that was being done,” said OSHA Regional Director Mark Stelmack.

OSHA has six months to investigate.

Neighbors in Swoyersville are leaving flowers at the site in memory of John Brdaric.

“This is the valley with a heart. It’s been said before but it’s true. People care about people here. And they respect each other,” Bosha said.

Calling hours for John Brdaric are set for Thursdays from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Betz Jastremski Funeral Home in Luzerne.

His funeral is 10 a.m. on Friday at Holy Family Parish in Luzerne.

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