Couple that lost everything in Washington building collapse now sleeping under gazebo

WASHINGTON, Pa. — Two months later, what remains of a building that collapsed in Washington, trapping a woman for hours, is still there and part of the road is still closed.

Channel 11 talked to two former residents of that building who are now living under a gazebo.

City leaders say they've been waiting for insurance companies to give them the all clear, explaining the crane and construction has to stay until the building is deemed safe.

The mayor told Channel 11 he’s confident that all clear is coming this week, as former tenants who used to call the building home are struggling and homeless.


Robert Teagarden lost everything the day his building collapsed on Main Street in Washington, the collapse that trapped the woman who lived directly above him for nine hours.

He and his girlfriend Bambi are now sleeping occasionally in hotels, but mostly under this Washington Pavilion, unable to get jobs without paperwork or secure housing without jobs.

“I went from having everything to nothing,” Teagarden said. “I paid my rent. I paid my bills. Why is this my fault?”

The building collapsed eight weeks ago this Wednesday, essentially shutting down Main Street in Washington.

Giant cranes erected have been blocking the road and entrances to local businesses for nearly two months now.  At the Popular Popcorn Willies, the owner told us he's grateful for the courthouse foot traffic since his business is completely blocked by construction.

“We have loyal customers. A lot of it is walk-in so that helps,” Mark Buxton said.

The building’s owner, Mark Russo, hasn't had his day in court yet.

His case has been continued multiple times.

Main Street in Washington is STILL SHUT DOWN 8 weeks after the building collapsed. Talking to officials today about...

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“We get all excited because we talked to the insurance company. They said basically they can't do anything until he's found guilty and he's on his fourth continuance,” Teagarden said.

That couple's apartment crashed clear into the basement, which helps explain why they weren't able to retrieve any belongings.

The Red Cross, Community Action Southwest, Catholic Charities and several local churches have all been working with the former tenants, as well.