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Gargoyle Falls Off Church, Kills Woman in Chicago

Gargoyle Falls Off Church, Kills Woman in Chicago

Every year people in the United States are injured, and sometimes killed, by debris that falls from buildings. Objects accelerate as they fall, so even small things can cause serious injury if they fall from a significant height. Old buildings pose a danger when facades, concrete, bricks, or other materials break off and fall to the ground, injuring anyone below.

Recently, pieces of a gargoyle fell off a historic Chicago church and killed a mother-of-two who was walking along the street. According to the Chicago Tribune (9.5.14), a piece of decorative metal on the exterior of the Second Presbyterian Church gave way and dislodged a chunk of stone from a gargoyle sitting on a corner of one of the building’s towers. The broken piece fell and struck Sarah Bean, 34, killing her almost instantly.

This tragic accident was likely preventable. The church failed a string of inspections between 2007 and 2011 for violations including failing to remove obstruction from building exits and failing to maintain an interior stairway system in safe condition, the Chicago Tribune said. A citation record from February 2010 said: “All of the building’s outside walls had “fractures, washed out mortar at various locations, spalling (flaking) stone at various locations at (north, south, east and west) tower elevations.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that the church building failed an inspection in 2011for code violations that included failing to maintain exterior walls. The latter case was dismissed after repairs were made.

The building passed inspections in 2012 and 2013, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Protective scaffolding was erected around the church to prevent any more incidents. Police and city officials were investigating the fatal accident.

The Gothic revival church is one of the Chicago’s oldest and a national historic landmark. The church was built in 1873, two years after the Great Chicago Fire.

The majority of the traumatic injuries and deaths that result from falling objects could have been prevented. Typically, someone has been negligent when something drops on someone. In the absence of negligence, things do not fall on people. Head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, fractured skulls, and death can all be the result of objects that fall from buildings.

When people are seriously injured by falling objects, legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer can help victims and their families recover damages for their medical expenses, lost salary and more.

The Chicago Tribune story cited is “Church death: Family, friends remember ‘Sarah Smile.’”


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