The efforts of three teenagers attempting to steal metal rods from a local construction company ended in tragedy on Thursday, August 21, 2014. Brick and concrete panels weighing up to 34,000 pounds fell unexpectedly, pinning one of the teenagers under the collapsed wall in the south suburban business yard. Authorities say the teen died at the scene of the accident.
The office of the Cook County medical examiner identified the 16-year-old youth as Dallas Harden from Alsip. The resulting autopsy indicated that the teenager’s death was the result of multiple crushing injuries caused by the collapsing concrete wall. The death of the youth has been ruled an accident by the county corner.
Surviving Teens Facing Charges
The two surviving teenagers with Harden at the time of the accident, both 15 years old, are facing charges of criminal trespass in Cook County. Since the accident, they have been released from Alsip police custody to their parents.
After notification by one of the teens who called 911 immediately after the collapse of the wall, authorities raced to the scene of the Alsip accident at the Lombard Company in the 4200 block of 123rd St. Authorities instantly realized the teenager was pinned by a heavy fallen precast concrete wall with brick cladding. Harden was not breathing when found at the scene at approximately 2:35 AM, where he was pronounced dead.
An aunt of one of the charged teens spoke with a local newspaper, and indicated her nephew told her that the teens were searching for scrap to exchange for money. Apparently, Harden was kicking pipes loose from the wall before it came down. Even though the other teens attempted to remove the heavy concrete atop of Dallas, the wall continued to fall.
The woman indicated her nephew has suffered minor injury to the ribs as a result of the accident. The teen’s aunt was confused why anyone would put their life in such grave danger, and wondered if it was because of the adrenaline rush from believing they might be caught during the burglary.
A Lack of Safeguards
Unfortunately, the dangerous conditions at the construction company were not properly guarded with a fence but had only “no trespassing” signs posted in the area. Lieut. Jay Miller, an Alsip law enforcement officer, believed the lack of safeguards was probably an indicator that the company believed it would be too difficult to steal anything that heavy out in the yard.
Unfortunately, Harden and the other two teenage boys were unaware that the steel rods were necessary to keep the constructed walls upright. Removing multiple rods initiated the collapse of the wall, pinning and killing the child from the excessive weight.
The Lombard Company on 123rd St. is an established company doing business in Alsip since 1956. The company website indicates that the construction business is involved in numerous ventures in various industries that include municipal, commercial, educational, medical and industrial projects.
The company released a statement indicating it is fully cooperating with the investigation of the accident and death. The business has extended condolences to the family of Dallas Harden.