DETROIT (WWJ) – Two people allegedly hunting for scrap metal were killed Wednesday after part of a vacant nursing home collapsed on them on Detroit’s west side.
Fire, police, and rescue crews were called to Seven Mile and Glastonbury, near the Southfield Freeway.
Two bodies were discovered in the abandoned five-story building. Fire Chief Kwaku Atara said it’s believed the two men were scrapping at the time of the roof collapse.
“If you see someone scrapping in your neighborhood, call police immediately. This activity directly affects the Detroit Fire Department, because the firefighters have to respond to buildings just like this in emergencies. Not only firefighters but all emergency responders, possibly may have to go into these facilities,” said Atara.
And he says it’s very dangerous.
“We would like to urge residents that this is extremely dangerous way to make a living and we would discourage it at all costs,” said Atara.
Taylor Matthews lives near the abandoned building. She told WWJ’s Marie Osborne it’s an absolute dangerous eye sore.
“I don’t think this is right. It’s a shame that this building has been here forever,” said Matthews.
Rev. Kevin Johnson of Calvary Presbyterian Church, next door to the collapsed building, said he had talked to city officials about the wrecked building several times over the past few years.
“Unsafe? Yes, it’s unsafe. There had been an incident that happened in the spring where some youth were on the roof throwing rocks and damaged cars in our parking lot.
“It’s been bad ever since the building was vacated nine, 10 years ago. We stepped up our efforts to try and maintain the property so the vegetation didn’t pose traffic hazards at the intersection. It’s been crazy.”
Johnson said two men were regularly at the abandoned building the last few months, pulling out every scrap they could. They showed him a permit from the previous owner, the pastor said.
“They were getting into the skeletal structure, the beams that actually hold the floor up. They literally just tore it apart,” he said. “But I was a voice crying in the wilderness.”
Police say family members of the victims reported they were last seen Monday.
Their identities have not yet been released.
A full investigation is still under way.