National News

3 hurt when staircase collapses in Kentucky building

Posted March 3, 2009 4:59 p.m. EST
Updated March 4, 2009 12:38 p.m. EST

— A city official was critically injured and two other people were hospitalized Tuesday after falling about 30 feet when stairs collapsed inside a historic downtown building.

Downtown Development Corp. Director Alan DeLisle and three others were touring the building when the wooden staircase to the third floor crashed down to the first floor, said Louisville Fire spokesman Sgt. Salvador Melendez.

"They took a pretty good ride. They were on it, it appears, all the way down," Melendez said.

Firefighters pulled DeLisle, deputy director Patti Clare and building owner Paul Bariteau from the rubble, said Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Abramson. Bariteau's wife, Carolan Bariteau, was rescued from a third floor window. She was not on the stairs and was not hurt.

Clare was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at University Hospital, said hospital spokesman David McArthur. DeLisle was in crtical condition and Bariteau was in stable condition.

The historic but vacant structure, known as the Fort Nelson Building, is located in a revitalized section of Main Street, across from the popular Louisville Slugger Museum and down the street from Louisville's Science Center.

"This was a terrible tragedy – and Patti and Alan were doing what they love, working with a property owner to redevelop this beautiful historic building on Main Street," Abramson said in a statement.

DeLisle had only been in the director's job for about a month and had not been inside the four-story 19th-century building, which has been targeted for years for redevelopment.

DeLisle had previously worked in Durham, N.C., as head of the city's Economic and Workforce Development office, and a former colleague said Tuesday he has a "passion for downtown development."

"Him wanting to go into the building and tour it with the owners - that's Alan. He's a sponge as far as absorbing information," said Kevin Dick, who replaced DeLisle in Durham.

"His family has flown to Louisville to be with him. Everyone here is very concerned and thinking about him and his family," Durham Public Affairs Director Beverly Thompson said.

Bariteau's company, Forte Development, purchased the building and two others on the block in the late 1990s.