Falling From an Abandoned Building Causes the Death of a Teenager on Chicago’s North Side

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A 16-year-old teen that apparently entered the long-vacant Ravenswood Hospital building through a window this Monday morning, and fell from the second floor onto the concrete ground floor.
The teenager, later identified as Jose Morales, of the Northwest Side, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with severe internal injuries and died at 1 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
A neighbor near to the derelict building, Rachel Spooner, said she had seen an increasing groups of teenagers sneak into the building to hang out several times over the last six months, and she said she had made a call to the city in December and subsequently the owners of the building were cited due to code violation, but the situation still continued.
According to a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department, the city determined that the building’s owner had not properly secured the property even thought the building was cited in December for broken windows and unsecured entrances, according to city records.
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The police, through News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli, said that Morales and two other adolescents, both 17, climbed a fire escape and got into the building, and after the boy fell, the two other teens apparently carried him out of the building before calling 911.
The West Ravenswood Neighbors Association has been pushing for demolition of the building, and after talking recently to representatives from Lycee Francais, a French-language elementary and high school that purchased the building in November, they were under the impression that the property had been secured.
Photographs taken during the department’s December inspection, posted on the city of Chicago’s website, show evidence of previous trespassing, including two photographs of graffiti on interior walls and a ground-floor window partially covered by a board that appears to have fallen or been broken out.
Several parties, including Lycee Francais, were cited that month with not maintaining the building in a safe condition, leaving the building open without a guard, failing to register the building as vacant, failing to post contact information for an owner on a vacant building, and not repairing or demolishing a vacant building.
If the owners would have done the necessary steps to secure the site, taking in consideration the building’s record of problems and its code violations, this incident could have been prevented. Therefore, the owners may be negligent in failing to secure the building and their negligence proximately causing the injury of the victim.
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