One man was killed and two others were critically injured in a Garfield Park porch collapse on Chicago’s West Side.
Concrete Slabs Pin Victims
The tragic Garfield Park porch collapse took place on April 12, 2022. That afternoon, three men were sitting on the front porch of a three-story home at 3418 W. Jackson Blvd., including 52-year-old Anthony Wright, his 32-year-old son Anthony Jr., and a 68-year-old cousin-in-law. At approximately 4:00 p.m., brickwork at the top of the building collapsed and fell onto the porch below, causing the porch itself to collapse in turn. All three men were pinned beneath heavy concrete slabs in the staircase leading to the basement when emergency personnel arrived minutes later.
Fire officials pronounced Anthony Wright dead at the scene from multiple injuries he sustained in the Garfield Park porch collapse. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office later ruled his death accidental.
Ambulances transported the other two men to Mount Sinai Hospital, where they were said to be in serious to critical condition with crushing injuries. A firefighter also suffered a minor injury while attempting to extricate the victims.
City Restricts Access to Site
The Chicago Police Department blocked off Jackson Boulevard with yellow tape for nearly three hours after the Garfield Park porch collapse as City of Chicago workers attempted to remove nearby vehicles and record and inspect the damage.
Authorities permitted the family members of the deceased to enter the first floor to retrieve what they could of his belongings, while the Chicago Department of Buildings remained on site to secure the location. The Chicago Fire Department was also called back to the scene the following morning.
In response to the deadly structural collapse in Garfield Park, the Buildings Department issued the following statement:
The Department of Buildings is working diligently to investigate the partial collapse at 3418 W. Jackson Blvd. and wants to express condolences to those impacted by this horrible tragedy. The City is working to abate the dangerous conditions and will be onsite throughout the evening to remove any unstable portions of the building. As the investigation continues, the Buildings Department will develop a clearer picture of what occurred and provide updates accordingly.
Failed Inspections Before Garfield Park Porch Collapse
Records from the Department of Buildings show that the home had failed two inspections prior to the structural collapse. An inspection in 2015 revealed more than half a dozen alleged code violations, including a violation for “failing to maintain the exterior walls of the building,” which were noted to have “washed-out mortar.”
According to relatives, the building’s owner is the cousin of Anthony Wright’s wife – a nurse who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic. The family claims that she had been unable to secure the necessary financial assistance to fix the structure.
In response to the Garfield Park porch collapse, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the City of Chicago needed to help homeowners who have fallen on hard times find a way to maintain their properties in a condition that is safe for the public.
“As building inspectors have gone through it,” said Lightfoot, “they’ve determined that the supports that are necessary, the bones, as the folks in the building trade call it, have just deteriorated to the point of probably not being able to be salvaged.”
Porch Collapses Common in the United States
According to a 2015 Consumer Product Safety Commission analysis, approximately 6,500 people in the United States ended up in emergency rooms as a result of collapsed porches and balconies in the twelve years leading up to the report, with twenty-nine of them suffering fatal injuries.
The deadliest porch collapse in American history occurred at an apartment building in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood on June 29, 2003. Thirteen people were killed and fifty-seven others were seriously injured in that incident. Personal injury attorneys representing twenty-seven families filed suit against the building’s owner and the City of Chicago in response.
While the building’s owner insisted that overcrowding caused the Lincoln Park porch collapse, municipal inspections determined that poor construction was primarily to blame. The City ultimately fined the building’s owner a total of $108,000.00, though it declined to press criminal charges.
Have You Been Hurt Because of Defective Conditions?
The State of Illinois requires property owners to maintain their structures or land in a reasonably safe condition so as not to expose authorized visitors to harm. If they breach that duty, an injured victim could potentially obtain compensation by pursuing a premises liability claim. If you have been hurt because of defective property conditions, consider reaching out to the premises liability attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With more than $2 billion successfully recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation necessary to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.