A Chicago woman walking by a church on Michigan Avenue was killed Thursday when a chunk of a decorative gargoyle struck her on the head.
“I felt like something happened. I looked back and she was on the ground,” fiancé Lance Johnson told CBS 2 of the freak accident that killed Sarah Bean, the mother of his 10-year-old and 14-year-old sons.
Investigators later determined that a piece of ornamental metal on the building was blown off by a gust of wind. It hit the gargoyle as it fell, effectively severing the gargoyle’s head (pictured). That piece struck the 34-year-old as she walked by. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, but Chicago Tribune reports she was truly killed “almost instantly.”
According to Chicago’s Buildings Department, the 140-year-old Gothic revival church failed multiple inspections between 2007 and 2011 for “fractures, washed out mortar at various locations [and] spalling stone.” It did, however, pass inspections in 2012 and 2013.
Rev. Robert Reynolds told Chicago Tribune he was “not aware of any immediate structural issues they were addressing” before the accident. He added, “We’re grief-stricken over this tragedy. Our prayers are of course with the family and friends of the woman who died.”
Sarah worked at a children’s hospital, where she provided technical support for nurses in the pediatric intensive care unit. Co-worker Nina Desiderio said Sarah did everything “for her boys, for her family.” Older brother, Michael Willis, described her as a “beautiful person” who was finally planning to marry Lance after more than 14 years together.