Rosemont, IL Stadium Roof Collapse, Aug 1979
5 DIE IN STADIUM COLLAPSE.
Rosemont, Ill. (AP) - Five workmen were killed and 15 were injured Monday when the roof of an $8 million stadium under construction near O'Hare International Airport suddenly collapsed "like a whole lumber yard falling down" moments after a jetliner reportedly roared overhead.
The wooden roof of the rectangular, four-story stadium, which was designed to seat 19,400 people, came crashing down about 8:30 a.m. while 26 men were at work, police said.
"It was just like a war ... everything was coming down around us," said electrical contractor VICTOR MOLINILLI, 38, of Mount Prospect.
MOLINILLI, who was among the injured, said he was working in a trench under the grandstand area. He said there was no warning the roof was about to come down.
After reaching safety outside, MOLINILLI said, the first thing he did was "kneel down and pray."
The cause of the cave-in, which witnesses said came moments after a jet flew over, was under investigation.
Spokesmen for the architect and the Federal Aviation Administration said it was too early to speculate on where the plane had anything to do with the collapse. An FAA official, however, said he was certain a large jet would have been lading at O'Hare at the time of the accident.
Mayor Donald E. Stephens said he talked with some construction people and that he believed there was nothing to indicate the plane caused the collapse.
The stadium, which had been scheduled to open in late December, was designed for sporting events, circuses and business meetings.
Joseph Peterson, spokesman for the Rosemont Police Department, said five men were confirmed dead. All were taken to a temporary morgue, across the street from the stadium.
The dead men, all carpenters, were identified as:
ARTHUR REYES, 30, of Chicago.
JOHN GETH, 30, of Franklin Park.
MARTIN WILKENSEN, 36, of Elk Grove Village.
CHESTER M. PHILLIPS, of Des Plaines.
and DOUGLAS E. WILSON, JR., 25, of Chicago.
Peterson said many of the workers were trapped in the wreckage but were later freed.
One witness, Paul Prorok, said the collapse "sounded like a whole lumber yard falling down."
Prorok, employed by a nearby firm, said he had been watching carpenters covering laminated wood beams with plywood when the roof gave way. The stadium's roof was supported by laminated wood beams set into concrete pillars.
"There were about 18 men working on the roof when a plane came over," said James Pinkston, 43, a concrete worker. "Suddenly, everything began to vibrate. You could hear the roof cracking and then it started falling in."
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, Neal Callahan, said planes were flying
"just a couple hundred feet" over the site Monday morning.
Rescue crews from Chicago and seven suburban communities were sent to the stadium, northwest of Chicago near the giant airport.
Fred Schroeder, an architect with the firm of Anthony R. Rossi, which designed the stadium, said was "very wild and very premature" to speculate on whether the plane could have triggered the collapse of the roof.
San Bernardino County Sun California 1979-08-14