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'They should be ashamed of themselves'

Owners of vehicles damaged by Town Hall parapet collapse air grievances

On March 1, Anna Colonna Carroll drove her Toyota Matrix from her Delmar apartment over to Bethlehem Town Hall to rehearse with the Bethlehem Senior Chorus. It was the normal weekly trip she made every Tuesday morning as a member of that group.

What is far from ordinary is what happened next. As Carroll turned off her car and prepared to step out, a 60-foot portion of the parapet wall lining the roof of Town Hall gave away, sending bricks crashing down on to her car and three others.

The concussion was enough to make Carroll think a bomb had gone off. The windshield of her car cracked.

I thought I was under water, she said. "The whole thing was wavy and blurry."

When the bricks stopped falling Carroll, 87, pushed open her door. A nearby police officer told her to run from the car, she said, and she made it away from the danger as quickly as she could.

Now, Carroll wonders if she'll ever rejoin the chorus. She doesn't want to go near Town Hall again. She says she wakes up in the middle of the night, replaying the experience over and over with the knowledge that had the bricks fallen just seconds later there would have been a very different ending to this story.

"Most 87-year-old people would have died from this by now," she said.

Picking up the pieces

Town officials have cited the wear of expanding ice for the collapse. The facade had been targeted for repair in 2009, and was part of a package of Town Hall renovations that was delayed last year.

The process of picking up the pieces is rolling ahead. The Town Board this week made the approvals necessary to conduct an emergency repair of the feature. Two of the four vehicle owners have accepted offers by the town's insurer, Trident Argonaut Insurance.

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