Firefighter's family to sue after deadly collapse

October 19, 2011 3:01:43 PM PDT
The family of one of two firefighters who died in a building collapse last year filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the owners of that building.

Firefighters Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer were battling a fire inside an abandoned building on East 75th Street last December when the roof suddenly collapsed. They were dug out from the rubble but later pronounced dead.

Stringer's daughter, Jennifer, 23, lays the blame for her father's death squarely on the owners of the abandoned building that collapsed.

Stringer and Ankum were inside the Sing Way Cleaners on East 75th Street when the roof collapsed

"My dad, Edward Stringer, lost his life because of a negligent owner," Jennifer Stringer said. "Neither my father nor his comrade would have died that day if this building had been properly secured or better yet, torn down."

The six-page lawsuit noted the building was in foreclosure and was cited for 14 code violations by the city, among them being the owners' failure to maintain the roof in sound condition and repair.

Both Stringer and her attorney say they hope this lawsuit will spur the city and state to enact tougher penalties on owners who let their properties fall into disrepair, presenting hazards for firefighters.

"We would like this lawsuit to be an eye opener for everyone so that law is changed and becomes much harsher," said the family's attorney, Peter Flowers. "The owners and, frankly the banks that own these properties, have to take action to eradicate these threats."

Named in the lawsuit are Chuck and Richard Dai, who also own Sam Moy Laundry on east 75th Street.

Chuck Dai commented briefly, saying the situation is unfortunate and that his heart is hurting for the families.

Last month, a federal report found that the failure of the Shicago Fire Department to implement certain safety precautions contributed to the firefighter's deaths. The family, though, does not find the department at fault.

"We thought the fire department did a good job in responding to this as they normally do and have no issues with their conduct," Flowers said.

The Stringers are not the only ones suing. The widow of Corey Ankum filed a lawsuit in August and the City of Chicago has filed a motion to find them in indirect criminal content and have them pay a fine of $500 a day for failing to comply with the 2009 order to secure the building.

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