A Chicago woman was going to lunch with her fiancé on the South side of the city when a large chunk of a gargoyle dropped from a church’s facade and hit her on the top of her head killing her. The victim, Sarah Bean, age 34, was taking a stroll with her fiancé Lance Johnson when she was stuck.
An eyewitness, who had rushed over to help, later spoke to the media and stated that as soon as he saw the wound on Bean’s head, he thought to himself that the injured female was most likely deceased. He explained that the large piece of stone had ripped open the victim’s head from the front to the back. He said when he saw the damage he realized she would not be able to be saved.
Johnson had started screaming, the witness explained, as soon as he realized what had happened. He fell down to the sidewalk and put his hands on his own head. He started to scream hysterically. The witness added that he attempted to try and calm Johnson down because he realized there was really nothing he could do for Bean. It was later explained by other family members to the media that the pair was scheduled to get married very soon. Johnson fathered Bean’s two sons, which are aged 10 and 14.
Apparently a portion of ornamental metal which was quite a few stories up had come loose at the Second Presbyterian Church which is located on the corner of Cullerton Street and South Michigan Avenue. It then collided with the gargoyle and ripped off a portion of what appeared to be the head piece, which ended up hitting Bean. Chicago law enforcement stated that she died almost instantly but she was not pronounced officially deceased until later at a neighboring hospital.
The church was built back in 1874 and has been considered a national historic landmark, reported the city of Chicago. However the religious building has failed numerous inspections that were performed between the years of 2007 and 2011, but was able to pass them in 2012 and 2013.
Bean’s brother Michael Willis stated that the victim was about to be married. He also said that she had at one time lived just down the street from the church and have walked past it “millions of times. He added that he has also vowed to find out just exactly why the freak accident had to happen.
Willis declared that he was looking for answers. He wants to know just exactly why this had to happen. He stated that he believes it could have been prevented in some way if things had been done different on the roof. He added that the gargoyle accident would have happened to someone else, to if not to his sister. It was a matter of bad luck, the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Second Presbyterian Church receives inspections each year and passed those it was given in the past few years. However back in 2011, the 140 year-old structure was given a building violation that ended up being overturned later.
The Reverend Robert Reynolds, who is executive of the Presbytery of Chicago, released a statement of apology to the victim’s family, which said that the church was distraught by the death Ms. Bean and the fact that it was due to a result of some of the masonry at the Second Presbyterian Church. He added that his prayers were going out to Ms. Bean and her family.
The victim’s brother added that Bean was employed as a nurse’s aide at the Lurie Children’s Hospital. She had been scheduled to work that very evening. Bean was also one of five siblings, and had resided in that very neighborhood for many years. Bean had been going to lunch with her fiancé when the large piece of a gargoyle fell from the church’s facade and hit her on the top of her head killing her.
By Kimberly Ruble