Home / World / English News / ‘I woke up in a pile of rubble.’ Penetangushene, Ont., building collapse survivor shares story

‘I woke up in a pile of rubble.’ Penetangushene, Ont., building collapse survivor shares story

When Leonard Beecroft, 60, went to bed, he was not expecting to wake up rolling outside the building a few hours later as the walls around his room came crumbling down.

“It all came tumbling down while we were in bed sleeping,” Leonard says.

“It’s hard to describe. All I know is I woke up in a pile of rubble, not in my bed.”

Leonard and his brother Robin Beecroft, 57, lived at an apartment building at 78 Main St. in Penetangushene, Ont., for seven years.

The two are among at least 14 people who have now been displaced when their building suddenly collapsed last week.

Emergency crews responded to calls about the building collapse around 3 a.m. on Sept. 7.

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Building collapse at 78 Main Street in Penetanguishene on Sept. 7, 2023.

Supplied by Penetanguishene Fire

Two of the walls of the apartment building, thought to be at least 100 years old, caved in. The local fire chief said it was a ‘miracle’ no one was seriously injured.

Leonard says he escaped the ordeal with only a few scraps and bruises.

He says a woman from a nearby building helped him down from the debris. He then waited across the street before Flynn’s Public House, a local pub down the road, opened its doors to give residents a safe place to gather their thoughts.

Leonard’s brother Robin says he was helped down from their now-exposed apartment with the help of fire crews.

A week later, Leonard has a positive outlook, considering where he was a week prior.

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Little, however, is left of the home he and Robin once knew, and they find themselves starting from square one. Unfortunately, the two could not retrieve any personal belongings before the building was demolished.

They are currently living in the nearby Super 8 hotel, but Leonard says he hopes they will able to move into their new apartment on Monday thanks to the help from a community member.

Leonard says, unfortunately, the two did not have renters insurance, and he hopes others do not make the same mistake.

Leonard and Robin’s cousin has started a GoFundMe to help the brothers rebuild what they lost and purchase new clothing and other essentials.

The town has hired an engineer to investigate the cause of the collapse, but it is still unknown how it happened.

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