Falling ice from Willis Tower closes Loop streets

March 2, 2011 4:23:16 AM PST
At least two people were injured, one seriously, when they were struck by ice that fell from the Willis Tower near Monroe and LaSalle Tuesday afternoon.

An off-duty Chicago Fire Department paramedic was injured when he was hit by ice. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition, but is now stable. He has a gash to his head.

"He went down pretty hard and the original victim and myself bent down to help him out and he was gashed up pretty well, but while that was happening, more ice was coming down and we had to make sure we didn't get hit," Patrick O'Brien, witness, said.

A second person received minor injuries at the same tiime.

Police and firefighters closed streets near the Willis Tower, Chicago's tallest building. Despite scattering officials around the area to warn pedestrians, a third injury was reported around 5 p.m.

Officials said the wind is blowing the ice, which can fall blocks away. The ice also damaged a car at the corner of Wells and Monroe.

Police closed Monroe from Wells to Wacker to foot and vehicle traffic through much of the afternoon. It was reopened around 6 p.m.. Also, the CTA rerouted some buses: Eastbound No. 14 Jeffery Express and No. 56 Milwaukee buses are temporarily rerouted via Monroe, Franklin, Jackson, and LaSalle, due to police activity.

On Tuesday night, people walked past the warning signs with barely a notice. Experts say that's a bad idea.

"Keep an eye out, look around, make sure things are not coming down," said Chief Pat Brennan, Chicago Fire Department.