Debris from demolition killed woman in Atlanta

AP News
Posted: May 09, 2011 3:07 PM
Debris from demolition killed woman in Atlanta

A woman found dead in the wreckage of an abandoned Atlanta house was killed by falling debris when the building was demolished, authorities said Monday.

An autopsy shows the woman died of blunt force trauma when the house was torn down Saturday, said investigator Mary Beth Hauptle of the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office. The woman was not carrying identification, and fingerprints were being used to try to establish her identity, Hauptle said.

"We're actively seeking to identify this individual ASAP," she said.

Contractors told police they checked the house before the demolition started, but some neighbors said they didn't see an inspection of the property.

One neighbor, Sharon Huff, said she saw the demolition workers check inside the house Friday but they didn't do another inspection on Saturday. She said neighbors heard the woman calling for help as the demolition began and later heard a moan.

"A man upstairs said 'Stop, stop, there's somebody inside,'" Huff said as she sat on her stoop. "They just went to work and didn't go inside and check."

A permit on the property showed the demolition was handled by North Grading & Clearing in Carrollton. No one answered a phone at the company on Monday. A man who said he was from the demolition company was at the site Monday but declined to give his name and would not comment.

Neighbors said homeless people were frequently in the house and police sometimes had to clear the property of vagrants.

"It's tragic, very tragic," said neighbor Cassandra Davis as she ate her lunch across the street from the house. "Not in my wildest dreams would I think a person could go out like that."

A backhoe remained atop the rubble of the home on Monday. Yellow caution tape, clothing and trash were mixed in with the debris where the woman was found.

Hauptle said no more details will be released until the woman is identified and her next-of-kin notified. She said her office is working with Atlanta police on the case.

Police spokeswoman Kim Jones declined comment.

Sonji Dade Jacobs, spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed, said the mayor's office will not comment until the medical examiner issues a report.

Dorie Turner can be reached at