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Permits Probed in Chicago Porch Collapse

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From: Bob Johnson,   SEAOI

Permits Probed in Chicago Porch Collapse 

Associated Press Writer

June 30, 2003, 2:21 PM CDT

CHICAGO -- City officials Monday were investigating whether proper construction permits had been issued for a porch that collapsed, killing 12 people and injuring at least 57 others. 

"At this time, we haven't seen any evidence of criminal activity that will lead us to seek charges," police spokesman David Bayless said. 

The collapse happened about 12:30 a.m. Sunday in the city's affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood at a three-story building that was converted in 1998 from five apartment units to three. City officials said the third-floor wooden porch was apparently rebuilt at the same time. 

City Building Commissioner Norma Reyes said permits were issued for the conversion work, but no construction permit has been found yet for the porch. 

"We're not sure if they had the proper permit to put up the porch," said Breelyn Pete, spokeswoman for the Buildings Department. 

A structural engineer conducted a preliminary examination and determined that the porch was sound before the collapse, Reyes said Sunday. City officials are investigating whether the porch gave way because it was overloaded. 

The collapse has prompted questions about the safety of porches and whether weight limits should be posted. 

As many as 50 people, most of them in their early 20s, were crammed onto the apartment's third-floor porch for a party when the floor dropped from under them, sending people and debris crashing to the ground. 

Seven men and five women, many of them on the porches directly below, were killed. 

The building's owner, who Reyes said was in Canada, and its management company did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press. 

On Monday morning, 12 small, white wooden crosses were placed on the ground behind the apartment building, each bearing the name of one of the dead. Several bouquets of pink roses and white and lavender daisies were on the sidewalk in front of the building. 

Northwest of Chicago, eight people were taken to the hospital after a deck on an apartment in Rockford collapsed Sunday night. Eleven people were on the deck when the deck gave way with a crack. 
Copyright (c) 2003, The Associated Press

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