Man Dies After Rittenhouse Square Fire Escape Collapses

The investigation into a fire escape collapse that killed 22-year-old Albert Suh continues Monday as an engineering report is expected by the building's owners.

The city has requested the report from Khorram Group, a company out of Newtown Square, Delaware County, by end of business Monday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Officials say Suh, a 25-year-old woman and 26-year-old woman were attending a birthday party on the third floor of the historic John C. Bell apartment building on 229 S 22nd Street. 

Suh and two women went onto an iron landing of the fire escape around midnight to smoke cigarettes, according to investigators. Suddenly the landing came loose and collapsed. The three victims fell approximately 35 feet to the ground.

"Horrible crash," said Bernell Buckley, who lives next to the building. "It sounded like two automobiles. But it was right outside of my window. I was 10 feet away from it."

Another neighbor said she heard what sounded like "this incredible explosion'' and then screams. She then called 911.

All three victims were taken to the hospital. Suh was later pronounced dead at 5:43 a.m. after suffering severe head and neck injuries. Investigators have not yet revealed his identity. Police also say the two women suffered broken bones in their backs. They are both in stable condition.

Officials from the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections were at the scene investigating.

The John C. Bell complex is on the city's national historic registry. It was built in 1906 for John C. Bell, who served as the attorney general of Pennsylvania. John Bell's sons, John C. Bell Jr. and Bert Bell also lived at the home. John Bell Jr. served as the Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Pennsylvania as well as Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Bert Bell was the co-founder of the Philadelphia Eagles as well as an NFL commissioner.

The house was sold in 1944 and converted into an apartment complex. The Khorram Group bought the complex in 2003, reports the Inky.

The Khorram report must include what specifically must be done to ensure the safety of the fire escape.

While the investigation continues, access to the building's other fire escapes have been closed off.

No reports of any violations were found on the L&I website.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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