One Child Dead After Flight Information Sign Falls Over

By: AL.com
By: AL.com

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - One of four children injured when a Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport flight information fell on a family has died.

The Jefferson County Coroner's Office confirmed they received a call a short time ago from Children's Of Alabama. Coroner's officials said they don't have any additional information on the child's death and are waiting to hear from Birmingham police.

Four children and a mother were trapped under the sign when it toppled on top of them just after 1:30 p.m. today in the newly-renovated terminal. All four children were taken to Children's of Alabama; their mother to UAB Hospital. Their father was not injured.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell moments ago issued this statement: "I have offered our full support to the Airport Authority as they investigate what has occurred this afternoon. I have asked our public safety staff to assist this family in their time of need in any way possible as they grapple with what has happened."

Birmingham Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Donald Jones said rescue workers received the first call at 1:38 p.m. The incident happened in the airport's pre-security area near the Southwest Airlines counter in the upstairs northeastern corner of the facility.

Jones estimated the flight display sign weighed between 300-400 pounds. The area was immediately cordoned off as dozens of people worked on the victims, each of whom were transported separately to the hospital.

Jones said he didn't know the ages of the boys, but gave a rough estimate of between ages 6 -10. Jones said the victims that were still on the scene when he arrived were alert. The mother, witnesses said, had serious injuries to her legs. Witnesses also said one of the boys was unresponsive when he was loaded into the ambulance.

Officials said they didn't immediately know if the family was from Birmingham, and haven't released any names. Jones said the collapse of such a sign was a first for him. "I'm not aware of anything like that happening before,'' he said.

Albert Osorio, 46, of Birmingham said he was close by when the sign fell. There was a loud "boom" followed by the screams of victims and those who saw it happen. "The whole thing flipped down on those kids. It took all of us here to stand it back up. Everybody started screaming," he said.

Osorio said he and five other passers-by lifted the sign off of the trapped family. It was, Orsorio said, a tough thing to witness. "It's hard to describe."

Orsorio said the sign was attached to the wall "only by Liquid Nails," which is a caulking-like substance similar to heavy duty hot glue. Airport spokeswoman Toni Herrera-Bast said she couldn't confirm how the sign was mounted to the wall.

During the incident and in its aftermath, there was no disruption to flights in or out of the airport.

The airport opened the newly renovated Concourses A and B on March 13 upon completing the first phase of a $201.6 million effort to modernize and upgrade the facility to post-Sept. 11 security standards.

Construction began in June 2011 under the management of Brasfield & Gorrie-Bloc Global Services Group. Demolition and renovation of Concourse C is scheduled to begin in a few weeks.

Hererra-Bast said the incident is under investigation.


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