A blind Law School student fell down a 50-foot SEPTA ventilation shaft on 36th Street near Walnut Street yesterday, breaking several bones, according to University Police and other reports. McGinn Security guard Marsha Williams said she saw the blind student tap his cane against a security barrier to the right of the hole. She said he then stepped to the left, into the two-by six-foot opening to avoid the obstacle and suddenly plummeted from sight. Williams said she immediately called 911 and University Police. She said she saw Jeandron leaving the Graduate Towers dormitories at about 9 a.m., and was heading down South 36th Street when the accident occurred. According to witnesses, the metal grate which usually covers the deep shaft has been missing since yesterday. They said they saw the hole left open and unattended overnight. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority representative Jim Whittacker said he "didn't know" why the cover of the shaft was missing, and said SEPTA is currently investigating the incident. HUP Nursing Supervisor Marty Taylor said the 25-year-old Jeandron was very lucky, only breaking the top of his left arm and his left ankle. He suffered no internal injuries, she said. University Police Lieutenant Susan Holmes said that Jeandron also suffered a minor fracture of the spine. Philadelphia Fire Department Lieutenant Jack Christmas said a fire rescue team arrived at the shaft at 9:11 a.m. After medics stabilized Jeandron's condition, he was removed at 9:44 a.m. and taken to HUP. Fire and Occupational Safety Director Jim Miller said his office was told at 2:40 a.m. Sunday that the grate to the shaft was missing. Miller said he forwarded the complaint to SEPTA. SEPTA's Whittacker said the transit authority placed several barricades around the hole after the complaint was received, but did not close the hole. University Police officers guarded the hole yesterday until SEPTA replaced the cover. Whittacker refused to say if SEPTA was concerned about a lawsuit from Jeandron, saying only "if a suit is filed, a suit is filed." Law School administrators said they were very upset by the incident and were doing everything they could to support Jeandron. Law Dean Colin Diver described the incident as "a horrifying fall . . . It is miraculous that [Jeandron] is still alive." Diver said he was trying to get in touch with Jeandron's parents. Law School Vice Dean Margo Marshak called the accident "unbelievably sad," and said she went to visit Jeandron at HUP so that he would "feel that someone who really cares was there."Comments powered by Disqus
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