INDIANAPOLIS — Two adult males, both age 18, and a 15-year-old female found themselves calling 911 for help after their “exploration” day ended in two of them trapped in the basement of a building at 22nd and Meridian.
The teens told firefighters they were out and about exploring old buildings; this is a trend that has gained traction and a following online.
Within minutes of entering an abandoned building on North Meridian Street, the stairs to the basement collapsed, sending one male and the female down about 10 feet. The other male was not on the stairs when they collapsed.
While everyone involved got out without serious injury people who have been exploring old and abandoned buildings for years hope this rescue will serve as a warning for people interested in exploring buildings in the future.
Kris Cowden runs the Facebook group Abandoned and Forgotten Indiana. She has been exploring abandoned properties for 10 years.
The group she runs has nearly 80,000 members. All of which enjoy visiting and photographing old properties. Cowden says you can usually tell if a building isn't safe to explore.
"Before you go in kind of look around and make sure you don't see the floor falling in,” Cowden said. “My number one thing is I never go upstairs in a two-story house because that is usually your weakest floor. Just always be aware of your surroundings. Just make sure you are safe and whoever you are with is safe."
She says it is also important to make sure that you have permission from the property owner to enter the building and explore. Trespassing is not something her group advocates for. She says you can usually find who owns buildings by doing a bit of research.
Indiana Landmarks owns several historic properties all over the state. They say if you have permission from the owner of an old or abandoned building, check with them to see what condition it is in.
If the condition proves to be less favorable, there are some safety protocols you can follow.
"We have asked that people wear protective gear,” Mark Dollase the VP of Preservation Service at Indiana Landmarks said. “Like protection for their heads so that they don't get injured or whatever the case may be. “
At the end of the day being aware of your surroundings while exploring is the best way to make sure your curiosity doesn't get the best of you.
IMPD says the teenagers were not charged with trespassing, since there is no official owner of the building. The city's community relations division is now looking into what to do with that building.
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