|With the severe winter weather the Northeastern United States has been experiencing this year, it is no surprise that buildings have been collapsing under the weight of all the snow. One such building was a garage in Pepperell, Massachusetts, which recently collapsed — with its owner inside.
Jennifer Ellars was leaving her home to run errands on February 15th when she made a last minute decision to drive her husband’s Volvo instead of her minivan. She chose to drive the Volvo because it handled better in the snow than the van. No sooner had she entered the vehicle than the garage collapsed on the minivan.
“I could see the hanging ladder moving with that crack. And then ‘Bang.’ This loud ‘Bang.’ And you could feel the whole car move.I physically ducked, thinking I could get squished here flat. And then it was over,” Ellars explained. Emergency respondents speculate that Ellars would not have survived the collapse had she been in the minivan.
Ellars’ husband, Charlie, was standing a few feet away from the garage when it collapsed, but due to the loud noise of the snowblower he was operating, did not notice the building come down. It was only when his son ran toward him, shouting, that he saw the damage. Charlie Ellars approached the Volvo to find his wife unharmed, asking him to please get her out, as the back windows of the Volvo had blown out and the windshield cracked. Local firefighters were later able to extract Jennifer Ellars from the Volvo.
The Ellars’ garage was only one of 58 that occurred in Massachusetts in the past week. To prevent building collapse, try to remove snow from your roof regularly, using either a shovel or a roof rake. If you have any doubts about your ability to safely remove snow from your roof, hire an insured, experienced contractor to do it for you.