Woman killed when part of church falls in South Loop

A Chicago woman walking to lunch with her fiance was killed suddenly Thursday when the facade from a nearby church fell on top of her.

34-year-old Sara Bean was walking near 1900 S. Michigan Avenue around noon today She was killed almost instantly when, witnesses say metal affixed to the facade of Second Presbyterian Church fell off, severing a decorative piece of concrete on the side of the building.

The church has had its fair share of maintenance issues over the years. It was built in 1874 and problems have been documented and in some cases, problems were fixed.

But Sara’s family wants answers as to how this could have happened.

“They were walking to go to lunch. The light changes and they were crossing the street,” Sara’s brother Michael Willis said.  Michael says Sara’s fiancé Lance said he felt something hit him in the shoulder so he stepped back. “When he stepped back, he moved forward and looked at my sister.   By that time the fragment had already hit her in the head.”

Two men across the street claim they saw it happen and there was nothing they could do to stop it on this windier than usual day.

Sara was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She was engaged to be married and a mother of two.

“She just was the greatest sister a person could have,” Michael said. “She was my heart.”

City workers have erected scaffolding around the historic building. Earlier today building inspectors climbed into the bell tower to see if they could determine just what went wrong.

Dept of Buildings says this building has been inspected annually in 2012 and 2013. In 2011 there were some building violations, but repairs were made and the case dismissed.

 

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