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Chicago Authorities Brief Press

Aired June 29, 2003 - 07:19   ET


KRIS OSBORN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to take you right now to a live briefing in Chicago with an update on the deck collapse. Let's listen in as officials explain more about what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...information line, which is (312) 743-INFO. Again, that's (312) 743-INFO for families and friends of people involved in this unfortunate incident.

We immediately deployed upon being notified of this incident, staff from the Department of Human Services, the American Red Cross, and counselors not only to the scene here, but also to the area hospitals. We've set up a command post and an area of coming together for families and friends at the alderman's office here at 735 W. Wrightwood.

Our hearts and our prayers go out to the victims and their families. And we would ask that you all join us in keeping them in your thoughts. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With regard to the investigation on the building, do you have any sense of how many people were either above or beneath the deck that collapsed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we haven't been able to determine. That investigation is ongoing. And the police department, with the superintendent, have made several interviews of witnesses. And that continues at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there regular inspections of these porches, not just here, but everywhere throughout the city?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's a building department question. And the commissioner of the building department can best answer that. I can say that -- I can with fair certainty say that of course these buildings are instructed -- inspected, as well as the back porches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll be records of the last time it was inspected...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the building commissioner is in our office now. And she was here at the scene with us and left here and went to her office to ensure that you were able to come. She was able to come up with whatever files on this building that she had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems clear to you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe how it best -- how it happened for the folks who are listening live right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the best that we can determine at this point, the third floor, as you can see behind me, the third floor porch collapsed. And it took the second and first floor with it, ending up down in the stairwell of the building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did it seem pretty clear you had too many people on there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, obviously from what we see behind us, there was -- something happened. And it appears to be that there was too many people for the load that the porch was able to withstand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These steps are not rigged for a certain number of people or anything like that. I mean, is there -- there's no way to -- it's not like it's a bar where you can limit the number of people that are supposed to be in a particular area, right? These are private residences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, common sense should prevail at some point. And what restrictions are on porches and decks and things of that nature would be a question best answered by the building department.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Director, any guestimate as to just how many people might have been on that deck at the time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, anything that I would say to you in terms of numbers would be a guess. And that's unfair to the investigation. And right now it would be unfair to the people who have lost loved ones here and who have members and friends injured at this location. Again, the investigation will take its course. But right now, we're just kind of focused on making sure that the family and friends of the people involved in this incident get the help and the care and the counselling that they need.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You set up a special hotline?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what is that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what can you do for the families then? And what are you hoping to do, triage them in to the various hospitals and hook them up with their families?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we didn't just start this. This has been ongoing throughout the morning. This happened at 12:30 and I can tell you at 12:45 or so, the info line and people were staffing it and ready to start receiving calls from relatives...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you feel as though you were ready for this sort of thing? I mean, you've had porch deck collapses before in Chicago, but this was certainly beyond anything you've seen. Were you ready for this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think that you would have to have been on the scene early to see the admiral job that was done by the Chicago Fire Department, Firefighters, paramedics, rescue personnel, followed up by the perimeter control by the Chicago police department. We got the immediate response from all of the city departments. The effort was coordinated very well. And I think that yes, simply put, I think that it did go very well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Director Trotter, primarily college students? Can you give us a sense of their age ranges? And are there any identities on those who are dead?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there are some identities. And of course, we are withholding those until we're sure the family have been notified. The age ranges, I couldn't tell you that at this point.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

OSBORN: Chicago's emergency management office explaining the deck collapse in Chicago. We'll continue to follow this story.


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