Chicago, IL Balcony Collapse, June 2003

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Lincoln Park, Illinois -- (DH) -- A former Naperville high school football star and a photographer from Barrington were among a dozen young peope killed Sunday when a balcony collapsed during a party in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.
ROBERT KORANDA, 23, from Naperville, and KELLY McKINNELL, 26, from Barrington, were confirmed dead late Sunday afternoon by the Cook County medical examiners office.
The two died when a porch in back of a building at 713 W. Wrightwood Ave., collapsed about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, authorities said. An additional 57 people were injured, some critically, authorities said.
The scene was horrific.
"You saw the people falling and head them screaming. It was unbelievable," said Wauconda native HEATHER GILLIS, 26, who witnessed the collapse from her friend's rooftop next door.
KORANDA, a 1998 graduate of Naperville North High School and a standout on the school's football team, was remembered Sunday as an outstanding leader and role model.
"ROB always had a smile on his face," said Naperville North's head football coach Larry McKeon. "Not only was he a great player, but he got excited about the plays other people made."
"If you could pick out a kid to be your own son, he was it," said Neil McCauley, who retired as Napervile North's athletic director on Friday.
KORANDA'S family declined to comment Sunday.
McKeon said he got the call about 1 p.m. that KORANDA had died and that his younger brother, JOHN, was injured. JOHN was treated at a hospital and released, McKeon said.
After graduating from Naperille North, KORANDA played a year of football at Princeton University, McKeon said. Friends say KORANDA had graduated from Princeton and was working in the investment banking business.
McKINNELL taught digital photography classes at the Latin School in Chicago, where she graduated in 1995.
She also loved to dance, said Shawn Moran, a friend and former co-worker with McKINNELL at, a Web site that serves as an online city guide.
"That is just how I remember her, laughing, being out together and just dancing," Moran said.
McKINNELL, who had been living in a Lincoln Park apartment, started working for when it launched a Chicago version in 1999. She was laid off in February 2002, along with all the photographers in the Chicago office, said Peter Behle, a managing editor with the Web site.
She then took time to travel to Austraia and Thailand and talked of going to Sweden this year. Besides travel, McKINNELL loved her two dogs that were kept at her family's home in Barrington. She was also artistic and comical, Behle said.
"In a joking, but a serious way, she was into feng shui," he said. "She would walk around the office and joke that your desk is pointing in the wrong way."
WItnesses said the collapse was sudden. The porch dropped onto second-floor porch, which then collapsed and fell onto a basement stairwell, leaving dozens of people bleeding and crying for help.
"It just gave way, buckling," said Gillis, describing what she saw from next-door rooftop. "It cracked and fell straight down."
Larry Langford, spokesman for Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, said most of those who died appeared to have been sandwiched between the falling deck floors.
"Someone on the third-floor porch when it fell could have theorretically ridden it down and stepped off uninjured," he said.
In addition to KORANDA and McKINNELL, those who died were:
JOHN JACKSON, 22, of Kansas City, Mo.
KATHERINE SHERIFF, 23, of Chicago.
EILEEN LUPTON, 22, of Lake Forest.
HENRY WISCHERATH, 24, of Buffalo, N.Y.
SHEA FITZGERALD, 19, of Winnetaka.
MARGARET HAYNIE, 25, of Evansville, Ind.
SAM FARMER, 21, of Winnetka.
ERIC KUMPF, 30, of Hoboken, N.J.
JULIE SORKIN, 25, of Glenview, according to the medical examiners office. FITZGERALD was slated to be starting left tackle for Northern Illinois University's football team in the fall.
Those who escaped the apartment came running into the Burwood Tap across the street, said Des Plaines resident Anthony Bizzoni, who works part-time at the bar. Bizzoni helped them get ice and water.
"People were lying on the grass. They were up and down the alleyways," he said. "It was pretty ugly."
ANJIE DESAI, 25, was one of the lucky ones. The Barrington Hgh School graduate broke her ankle in three places and suffered bruses and bumps.
DESAI and a friend had stepped onto the porch minutes before the collapse, she said in a phone interview from her family's Hoffman Estate home.
The porch creaked and gave way, she said. She doesn't remember details of what followed. "It is hard," DESAI said. "I cannot believe that it happened and I was in it."
Chicago Buildings Commissioner Norma Reyes said officials and structural engineers are trying to figure out what caused the collapse. Officials contacted the building's owner, Phillip Pappas of Chicago-based LG Properties, Sunday.
After a preliminary examination, a structural engineer deemed the porch sound, Reyes said.
However, Chicago officials could not find a construction permit for the porch, which was built in 1998. They found permits for other rehab work at the building that year, but Reyes said it was not clear whether the porch exceeded the scope of the permits.
Chicago police said as many as 40 or 50 people may have been on the porch at the time of the collapse, and that there may have been beer kegs and dancing on the portch as well. Partygoers and emergency workers said all three of the porch floors appeared to have been of new construction.
With the summer party season underway, Reyes stressed that porches should be used for coming and going, not packing huge crowds.

Daily Herald Chicago Illinois 2003-06-30