PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Residents are questioning the safety of the building after two people were critically injured when a fire escape balcony collapsed at an apartment complex in West Philadelphia on Tuesday morning. It happened at Lexington Apartments on the 4200 block of Chester Avenue, shortly after 10 a.m.
According to police, two men were on the third-floor rear balcony when it collapsed.
A 36-year-old man suffered head trauma and was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in extremely critical condition.
A 31-year-old man suffered trauma to the left side of his body and was also taken to the same hospital in critical condition.
“Initially we sent a technical rescue response and it turns out that wasn’t needed but our medics transported a couple folks to the hospital,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.
Neighbors were horrified following the incident.
“All of a sudden I hear a clang and then a guy screaming for help,” Bridgette Saverine said. “I saw just the guy laying down on the ground and that’s when I started seeing EMTs come and they were helping him out, so I wanted to give them their privacy and pray for him.”
Tyler Santos, who is an off-duty EMT, was among a small group of people who rushed out of their apartments to help until paramedics arrived.
“They were holding his head straight maintaining c-spine, making sure that his cervical column was in line,” Santos said. “And there was nothing really you could do from that point besides apply pressure to the head where there is profuse bleeding.”
Residents say the balconies are emergency exits and not connected to any individual apartments. Some are now questioning the safety of the building.
“Yeah, I’m pretty surprised. I mean, it’s an older building but it’s not in complete disrepair,” Jonathan Lynch said. “It could have been anybody.”
Altman Management, which runs the apartment complex, has so far refused to comment. Philadelphia License and Inspections issued a notice condemning the fire escapes. It’s plain to see the balconies at the Lexington do not have braces the way the ones on the adjacent apartment building do.
CBS3’s Cleve Bryan contributed to this report.