Sara Bean, 34, killed by falling facade from South Loop church

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As crews put up scaffolding outside the church Thursday night, relatives of Sara Bean had to break the news to her children. (WLS)

Sara Bean, 34, was killed after a piece of facade fell off of a church in the South Loop, police said.

Bean was walking down the sidewalk with her fiance in the 1900-block of South Michigan Avenue when a piece of facade fell off of Second Presbyterian Church and struck her in the head around noon Thursday, officials said.

Bean had two children and was engaged to be married. She lived across the street from the church.
PHOTOS: Woman killed by falling facade from South Loop church


Witnesses say part of a metal star at the top of the church's tower fell off, clipping the head of an ornamental gargoyle on the way down. Both fell more than three stories to the ground. Witnesses are unclear which piece hit the victim.

As crews put up scaffolding outside the church Thursday night, relatives of Bean had to break the news to her children.

"How do you tell your nephews your mom sent you off to school this morning with a kiss and a smile, and she's gone," said Michael Willis, victim's brother.

Bean's brother, Michael Willis, says his sister and her fiance were standing on the southeast corner waiting for a light to change.

"He went to look at my sister. He looked back and saw that maybe a 30-pound limestone hit her in the head and split her head in two," said Willis.

"The guy was screaming hysterically, so I was basically trying to get to him and calm him down a little bit because I knew I couldn't do much for her," said Broderick Adams, a witness.

Bean, 34, worked as a nurse's aide at Lurie Children's Hospital and was scheduled to work there Thursday night. The mother of two boys, ages 10 and 14, was also caring for a niece and nephew.

"When I tell you a big heart, a lot of people say that, but my sister genuinely had a great big heart," said Willis.

Bean lived across the street from the church, which was built in 1874, and designated a national landmark just last year.

"I'm going to be talking to the building commissioner to understand the state of the building and also the police department to understand exactly what happened," said Ald. Pat Dowell of the Third Ward.

The church's pastor declined to comment.

Neighbors say the church is a neighborhood fixture where Chicago's elite once worshiped- including Marshall Field, who lived a block away on Prairie Avenue.

"It could have been anybody, it could have been me because I walk past there all the time," said Deapolis Moore, a witness.

The ABC7 I-Team looked into the history of the church and found it failed inspections several times in recent years.

City records show the church failed inspections in 2007, 2009, 2010, and in 2011. Among the violations were failing to maintain the exterior walls.

However, the Department of Buildings says the church later passed full inspections in 2012 and 2013.
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