Teen falls to his death from fire escape on Uptown condo building
FAMILY SUBMISSION: Blake Fannin
One of two teenage boys exploring a well-worn fire escape on the side of an Uptown condominium building fell four stories to his death, his father said Thursday.
On the weekend before he was to start 11th grade at Minneapolis Southwest High School, Blake Fannin fell early Sunday from what his father said was a fire escape that appeared to be in need of maintenance.
The seven-unit brick building, at 2501 Girard Avenue S., is about a block from where Fannin lived with his mother.
The ladder “swung out and he fell,” Kevin Fannin, who lives in Florida, said of the fire escape, which he has seen and described as rusted and “in bad disrepair.”
The father acknowledged that Blake and the other boy, who was not hurt, “probably shouldn’t have been doing what they had been doing,” but if the fire escape was in “decent shape, this wouldn’t have happened. … If they had a fire and they had to use it, no way.”
The building has two fire escapes, and both appeared well rusted Thursday, with chunks of metal missing. The ladder on the fire escape from which Blake Fannin had been on was jutting out at the top Thursday, but resident Vaughn Ormseth said the ladder was much closer to the building on the afternoon after the teen fell.
Resident Manly Zimmerman, an attorney, has been designated as a spokesman for the 100-year-old building’s occupants, and he had little to say about the circumstances surrounding Fannin’s death or the upkeep of the property.
“It’s unfortunate, I feel very badly for the family,” said Zimmerman, who added that “I’m not talking to you as a lawyer. I’m talking to you as a resident.”
Zimmerman said he’ll leave it up to the city to disclose the building’s maintenance history. However, owner-occupied condos such as this one are not subject to municipal inspection. There would be inspections required if the building included rented units.
“If any one of the individual condo units were rented, then that unit and the building would be subject to inspection,” said Mike Rumppe, the city’s deputy director of housing inspections. “That’s not the case here.”
Zimmerman said he was unaware that the building is not inspected by the city. He said, “We’re certainly going to do something about” the two fire escapes, though he was not sure yet what actions might be taken.
Kevin Fannin said Blake moved from Virginia to the East Isles neighborhood when he was 7 with his mother and embraced many athletic activities, most firmly basketball. He played on traveling teams in Minnesota and on squads near his father’s home in the summer.
A memorial fund established in Blake’s memory has been established with a goal of raising $10,000 to help pay basketball fees for families who can’t afford the cost. In less than a week, nearly $3,000 has been pledged.
“He didn’t believe city leagues should charge money,” Kevin Fannin said. “They may charge $25, but there are kids who cannot pay.”
While Blake’s home was in a “pretty affluent area,” Kevin Fannin was impressed that his son “had friends from all walks of life … from very poor areas and who were challenged in life. But somehow he brought them together.”
Along with his father, Blake Fannin is survived by his mother, Twylia Fannin, brother Eli Fannin, and stepbrothers Kalil and Akil Cole. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, 900 Mount Curve Blvd., Minneapolis. Contributions can be made to “Blake’s Basketball Scholarship” at http://tinyurl.com/plczq56.