3 Injured When Water Tank Falls From Lakeview Building

Structure collapsed, plunged from the roof of an historic apartment building in the 2800 block of North Pine Grove Avenue

By Kim Vatis
|  Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013  |  Updated 9:36 PM CDT
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One woman who was thrown off her feet by a wave of water recounts the frightening moments after a water tank tumbled off a Lakeview building. Kim Vatis reports.

One woman who was thrown off her feet by a wave of water recounts the frightening moments after a water tank tumbled off a Lakeview building. Kim Vatis reports.

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At least three people were injured, one critically, when an old water tank fell Wednesday morning from a nine-story building into a Chicago alley.

The structure collapsed and plunged from the roof of an historic apartment building in the 2800 block of North Pine Grove Avenue in the Lakeview neighborhood before 10 a.m., officials said.

Photos sent from Chicago Fire Media show a large round water tank collapsed on the street and at least one damaged car.

Chief Michael Fox said one woman standing nearby was literally swept away in the water when the tower hit the ground. Bertha O'campo was opening the door to the daycare center in the building to take out the trash when the crash occurred.

Two others were injured as they moved out of their apartment, Fox said. The man and woman were about to get into their car when the tank fell on the vehicle. The man was washed across the ground. His girlfriend was thrown up a staircase by the torrent of water. She slid back down head first, witnesses said in describing what one person called a "tidal wave."

"I heard this loud crash," witness Kevin O’Brien said. "The entire building shook."

It was move-out day next door, at 2828 N. Pine Grove Ave., so many people were crowded in the alley at the time.

"I hear people screaming so I look over and this huge water tower just falls from the sky and hits the ground," added Kathy Rawley. "Water and debris flying everywhere, knocked a girl out."

O’Brien said he saw an ambulance take away a woman on a stretcher. The three people injured in the fall, including O'campo, were taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital. O'campo was released shortly after midday.

Fox said the cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

The building, built in 1893 and originally known as the Lincoln Park Palace, was cited at least twice for violations in February of 2010, according to records on the City of Chicago’s Department of Building website.

The building is among those discussed by people curious of the paranormal. It's mentioned as a possible haunted spot on the website HauntedDetective.com, which also provides a bit of history that is certainly likely to bolster believers: it was July 31, 1895 when builder Bjoerne Edwards fell eight stories to the courtyard while the building was being constructed. He died hours later, 118 years to the day before Wednesday's water tank fell.

Scenes from the 1986 film Running Scared, with Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal, were filmed at the building. 

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