“I woke up in a pile of rubble.” Penetangushene, Ontario building collapse survivor shares his story

When Leonard Beecroft, 60, went to bed, he didn’t expect to wake up rolling outside the building a few hours later as the walls around his bedroom collapsed.

“Everything fell apart while we were sleeping in bed,” Leonard says.

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

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

The two were among at least 14 people who were displaced when their building suddenly collapsed last week.

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

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Collapse of a building at 78 Main Street in Penetanguishene on September 7, 2023.

Provided by Penetanguishene Fire

Two of the walls of the building, at least 100 years old, collapsed. The local fire chief said it was a “miracle” that no one was seriously injured.

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

He said a woman from a nearby building helped him free himself from the rubble. He then waited across the street before Flynn’s Public House, a local pub down the street, opened its doors to give residents a safe place to collect their thoughts.

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

A week later, Leonard has a positive attitude, considering where he was a week before.

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However, there’s not much left of the home he and Robin once knew, and they find themselves starting from square one. Unfortunately, the two men were unable to recover any personal belongings before the building was demolished.

They are currently living in the Super 8 hotel next door, but Leonard hopes they will be able to move into their new apartment on Monday with the help of a community member.

Leonard says unfortunately both didn’t have renters insurance and he hopes others don’t make the same mistake.

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

The city hired an engineer to investigate the cause of the collapse, but it’s still unclear how it happened.

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