Reports from the City of Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections office have no current building violations on record for the townhouse where College junior Lorna Bernhoft was injured from a 15-foot fall in the early morning of Oct. 12.
Licenses and Inspections has no record of complaints on the house, which is located on the 300 block of S. 42nd Street and owned by Palmer Apartments.
Bernhoft, who did not live in the house, was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with a broken back and head injuries.
Originally in critical condition, Bernhoft was in fair condition on Sunday evening, according to HUP Public Affairs. As defined by the American Hospital Association, fair condition designates that the patient’s vital signs are stable and the patient is conscious. Bernhoft’s CarePages website, written by her sister Sheila, reported that her breathing tube was removed Monday, and Bernhoft is now breathing on her own with the help of an oxygen mask.
Bernhoft was at an informal gathering at the home of members of her a cappella group Quaker Notes when the accident happened. An Oct. 13 posting on her CarePages website explained the events that occurred.
In an attic room, Bernhoft sat on a piece of plywood which covered a skylight above a flight of stairs, not realizing the skylight was underneath the board. It slid and Bernhoft fell. “It at least gave us relief knowing this happened in a complete freak accident, and not through some fault of hers,” Sheila wrote.
House manager Jennifer Palmer of Palmer Apartments originally said she was not aware of the incident the night it occurred. Palmer could not be reached for further comment.
While details of the residents’ housing agreement are unknown, the Penn Off-Campus Services website says a landlord may be held responsible for “negligent conduct” causing injury or damage. The site also notes “the landlord will also continue to be liable for injuries or damage resulting from defects in the apartment, where it can be shown that the landlord was on notice concerning the defect.”
While no complaints have been made to Licenses and Inspections in the past, it is still unclear whether or not tenants had made a complaint to the manager or landlord about the skylight and board. The Philadelphia Police Department is not currently investigating the accident.
College senior Jason Goodman, who lived in the house during the 2009-10 school year, said there were no noticeable damages in the building when he resided there, calling it a “normal, off-campus” house. He said plywood covered the skylight when he lived there as well.
College senior Emily Schultheis, president of Quaker Notes and former city news editor at The Daily Pennsylvanian, said Bernhoft “is constantly in our thoughts and prayers.” Members of the a cappella group have been visiting Bernhoft and helping her family since the accident.
As of Monday evening, Bernhoft’s CarePages site had over 600 messages of encouragement and over 700 followers. Schultheis said viewers come from across the country, and even from other nations. She added that the large number of supporters on Bernhoft’s CarePages site is “a testament to how many people are behind her.”Comments powered by Disqus
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