Long-term water damage blamed for deadly house collapse

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Officials say long-term water damage caused a house collapse in Mercer County that killed a mother and seriously injured her two daughters.

A report issued Tuesday by Hamilton Township's Division of Engineering cited water penetration and aging materials as the main factors in the collapse that occurred shortly before 7 a.m. Monday.

Water penetration through an exterior wall spurred extensive deterioration that caused a block to disintegrate, the report stated, which resulted in several floor joists slipping off their supports.

Authorities say 38-year-old Tika Justice shielded her 16-year-old daughter as the structure came down.

RELATED: Mother killed, 2 daughters injured when home collapses

Justice’s 20-year-old daughter was released from the hospital Tuesday. Her 16-year-old sister remained in the hospital.

Jenny Miller tells News 12 New Jersey that she was friends with the daughter and knew Justice.

“[She] was so sweet. She’d do anything for anyone, such a sweet lady,” Miller says.

Justice’s aunt came by the home Tuesday to see the site of the collapse.

“I feel awful,” says Patricia Green. “Coming and looking at the scene, it fell to pieces. How was the house standing up so long, then fell to pieces?”

The community is coming together to help the Justice family. St. Philip’s Baptist Church will be accepting clothing, shoes and gift cards for the daughter, starting Thursday.

The township says that the Wilson Neighborhood Service Center will also be taking donations from Thursday to Aug. 4.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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