Harrisburg tire store damaged by May wall collapse closes up shop

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- It's been five months since a parking lot retaining wall collapsed in Harrisburg.

There's been a lot of finger-pointing to determine who's responsible since the incident sent a wall of debris onto Howard Tire and Auto.

Howard Henry, the owner of Howard Tire and Auto, said the owners of the McFarland building on the hill above his store, failed to make the necessary engineering improvements after the wall collapse.

Now Henry says he's forced to take the next step.

Not much has changed at the shop since that fateful day in May.

The debris that fell from the parking lot is still there. A car that was parked up on the hill and fell, has now slid into his store.

However, there is something different happening at the store now.

It's no longer business as usual for Howard Tire and Auto.

Henry's attorney Mark Wendaur said "after five months of trying to have this wall remediated, and fixed, Howard Tire and Auto must close."

Howard Henry said "it's going to take me a few days to just kind of get to a place where the numbness starts to wear off. I recognize that this too shall pass."

After all, Henry started his business nearly 20 years ago from nothing.

"I was sleeping on a mattress in a warehouse, and going through a divorce, and god just showed me favor, and blessed me in ways that I couldn't even possibly imagine," Henry said.

Five months ago, the unimaginable happened. A parking lot retaining wall gave way and sent falling chunks of concrete and a car, onto and into his store. Now, an engineering report on the apartment building located on the hill above, brings an end to the business to which he dedicated his life.

"I fix stuff, that's what I do, it's who I am, and I can't fix this," Henry said.

"The impending danger associated with the wall, and the potential future landfall effects, causes a concern for loss of life," Wendaur said.

With the store's closure, comes a loss to the community.

"Are these concerned parties, McFarland Apartments, the City of Harrisburg, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, going to take action, and help a small business owner who provides 12 valued jobs within this community," Wendaur said.

"We wouldn't be in this place, at all, if there wasn't any concern for loss of life," Henry said.

So far, Henry hasn't been able to get the answers he's looking for, which has his attorney asking for help.

"We ask that the governor, Tom Wolf, step step in and ask PennDOT to act, we need further oversight from the administration, and a nudge, if you will, to resolve these issues," Wendaur said.

"He's literally just blocks away from me, you would think he would make a pass through here and and say 'hey, wow, that looks bad, what can we do to help," Henry said.

Despite everything that's happened, Henry isn't giving up hope.

"I believe in miracles, and I'm counting on one," Henry said.

Henry said he broke the news to his staff of 12 that they would be out of a job. He closed the store on Wednesday.

"My heart believes that it's temporary, and I want it to be," Henry said.

FOX 43 News reached out to the Governor's office for reaction to the news.

Governor Tom Wolf's press secretary Jeff Sheridan said “Governor Wolf certainly sympathizes with Mr. Henry, and the governor’s office plans to reach out to meet with him in the coming days, but the state does not have jurisdiction over the clean-up of this collapse and there is no direct action the state can take regarding this matter."

"PennDOT does own an adjacent bridge, so the agency investigated the wall collapse and it was determined that the wall in no way supports the bridge. PennDOT’s work on the bridge did not involve or impact the wall. Additionally, the collapse is not affecting a state roadway, so PennDOT cannot order the property owner to clean up or fix the wall,” Sheridan said.