Man killed in Center City fire escape collapse identified

CENTER CITY - January 13, 2014

That man is identified as Albert Suh, 22, from the 100 Block of Leonia Avenue in Leonia, New Jersey.

Sources tell Action News his two roommates, Nancy Chen and Lauren O'Brien, survived, but suffered broken backs and are recuperating in local hospitals.

The incident happened shortly after midnight Sunday on the 200 block of South 22nd Street.

Investigators say the victims were at a party when they stepped onto the 4th floor landing of the fire escape to smoke a cigarette.

The structure on the more than 100-year-old building came down fast trapping Suh and the two women.

"There were a lot of people up there, certainly possible that they were putting too much weight on it," said John Kenney, who was at the party.

The city says there was a weight limit but it doesn't know much because L&I is waiting on maintenance records from the Khorram Group, the building's owner.

Top city leaders say there's no history of violations and it would only inspect a fire escape if there's a complaint.

"The owner is responsible to keep the fire escapes up to code and well maintained," said Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison.

L&I has also requested an engineering report or action plan for repairing the fire escape.

As for residents in the seven apartment building, they only have the front door to escape through during an emergency.

"People are still living in this place so from our point of view the most important thing that has to be dealt with is what it is going to take to make this place safe," said Gillison.

Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger says residents with building concerns should contact L&I.

"People should also talk to their landlords and ask them, 'When was the last time you had this looked at?' and assured that it continues to be safe," said Greenberger.

The city has been in contact with the owner of the building and expected to get an action plan for repairs.

Action News reached out to the owner but they have not returned phone calls for comment.

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