UPDATE: Fallen Water Tank that Injured 3 Cited in Failed Inspection

The fallen tank hit two residents during moving day, sending one to the hospital in critical condition. But reports show the tank was cited years ago, and police say they’re looking into the mechanics.

Water falls off 9-story building on Diversey and Pine Grove, critically injuring one woman.
Water falls off 9-story building on Diversey and Pine Grove, critically injuring one woman.
A water tank fell from a 9-story building near Diversey Parkway Wednesday morning, sending three people to the hospital, one of whom was in critical condition.

The structure fell around 9:45 a.m. from the back of a building at 2800 N. Pine Grove Ave., commonly known as The Brewster or Lincoln Park Palace and it was unclear Wednesday whether it was up to date for city inspections.

The tank received at least two building code violations in 2010 leading to the inspection’s failure, according to the City of Chicago Department of Buildings

The record, which dates back to Feb. 17 of 2010, reads that the building was ordered to, “relocate steel bands to original position on water tank.” 

The notation is combined with an order to, “submit two copies of structural engineering report prepared, signed, and sealed by licensed architect or registered structural engineer about water tank.”

The citations were two of five that caused the building to fail the inspection, with the others being nondescript and potentially, about the tank. 

One other citation was in regards to repairing “exposed metal structures,” and another about having an engineer prepare a report regarding the said structures. 

Based on city data, it's unclear whether those citations were addressed and repaired before Wednesday's fall.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told the Chicago Tribune the inspection will look "into the mechanics. … Was any maintenance done recently? Did anyone check the mounts recently? Obviously the wind didn't blow it over."

Chicago Fire Chief Michael Fox said a man and woman were getting into their car when the tank dropped onto the vehicle, sweeping the man across the pavement in a wave, NBC Chicago reports. 

His girlfriend was taken up a staircase by a wall of water. She was then hit by debris, leading her to slide back down the stairs, head first, Fox said.

Witnesses at the scene said the woman was not moving when paramedics arrived. She was sent to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in critical condition while her boyfriend sustained less severe injuries. 

The two were reportedly moving into a nearby building when the accident occurred.

A third woman, Bertha O’campo, was opening the door to a daycare center on Pine Grove to take out the trash when a tidal wave of water swept her away, NBC writes. 

She was the last to leave in an ambulance and was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

Kathy Rawley was also in the parking lot moving when the tank fell. She says she heard screams.

"I look over and I see a huge water tower falling from the building," Rawley told the Chicago Tribune. "It looked like a tidal wave because water and debris shot everywhere. … It was the scariest thing I've ever seen."
Jeff Friedman July 31, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Is this the Brewster building? If so, the building is a historical Chicago landmark. And, I think there are restrictions to how the building can be changed. So, the condo association may not have been permitted to remove the water tank. But, they are most certainly liable for maintaining its safety. Hopefully the 3 people injured are able to make a full recovery.
Jeff Friedman July 31, 2013 at 01:05 PM
If you inspect your building regularly, you should be able to catch most potential problems. My hunch is there were warning signs. This was likely preventable. I also like those old water tanks.
Jeff Friedman July 31, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Thanks for the update Andy. Good reporting!
Richard August 01, 2013 at 08:41 AM
Why didn't the city do a follow up inspection to make sure the issues were addressed?
jcesarone999 August 01, 2013 at 02:01 PM
The Sun-Times is reporting that the injured man is a personal injury lawyer. That's an interesting twist.


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