Hamilton House Collapse: Mom died shielding daughter

A 20-year-old woman trapped in bricks up to her chest from a house that collapsed on South Broad Street in Hamilton. Photo from James Feig who was one of the first on the scene after the building collapsed.

Hamilton, NJ – A 38-year-old Hamilton woman, identified as Tika Justice, died when her house collapsed on her and her 2 kids ages 16 and 20.

The 16-year-old was found with her mother’s body, officials said. The 20-year-old was found chest-deep in debris when first responders arrived.

Hamilton Police Chief James Stevens told NBC New York that Justice was found on top of her 16-year-old daughter when she was reached by rescue workers as they frantically searched the rubble for the two after rescuing the 20-year-old daughter who was found trapped at the rear of the building and informed them of the others that were inside the house at the time of the collapse.

“They heard screams coming from the center of the dwelling,” Hamilton Fire Department Capt. Ferdinand Mather said.

Both daughters were taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, where they were listed in serious, but stable condition, he said. No one else was believed to be in the house, but dogs were brought in to assist rescuers with going through the wreckage.

A New Jersey State Police Cadaver dog works with rescuers to search for bodies in the collapse of a house on South Broad Street in Hamilton, NJ. Photo by Michael A. Sabo

James Feig was the first one at the scene after the three-story home collapsed around 6:50 a.m. Monday on the 1800 block of South Broad Street, near Joseph Street, while out on an early morning bike ride.

He found the woman trapped from the waist down. He took a picture after attempts to try and free her were unsuccessful.

“She had the phone in her hand; she was talking to dispatch,” Feig said.

Feig said they tried to call out to others who were trapped and first responders arrived in a matter of 1 or 2 minutes.

The cause of the collapse has not been determined at this time and is under investigation.

The home was a rental unit and the last certificate of occupancy was issued in 2013, officials said.

The crumbled 1804 South Broad Street residence was one of several rental homes on the same block owned by William “Bill” Pozniak.

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Irving Lawrence Duckwald III is a freelance writer and blogger based in Central New Jersey. He has a penchant for fried chicken, fast cars, and fancy suits. With a knack for "setting the record straight", he can argue till the cows come home why it's Pork Roll and not Taylor Ham.