NewsRegionOakland County

Woman, small children rescued from apartment after construction began, leaving them with no safe way out

Posted at 5:25 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 04:12:42-05

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Tipsters concerned about a safety hazard at Arrowhead Mall Apartments in Waterford Township contacted 7 Action News and shared photos of ladders up against a dilapidated balcony. They said some tenants were using the ladders to get in and out of their apartments.

Construction had started on the balcony and township officials said apartment management told them that the affected tenants on the second floor had moved out and were staying in a motel until the work was completed. Management reportedly told township officials that the only people using the ladders were contractors beginning work on the balcony.

But tipsters were adamant that there were some people still living upstairs. And they were right.

When 7 Action News arrived Monday the balcony had been completely removed and our crews saw a woman and a small child standing in a doorway on the second floor. There was some scaffolding nearby, but no safe way to enter or exit their home.

"I was shocked and disgusted," said Waterford Township Trustee Anthony Bartolotta, who explained that management lied to inspectors about anyone being in the upstairs units where the balcony was being worked on and subsequently removed.

Bartolotta quickly alerted township inspectors and the Waterford Township Fire Department to come help get the family out to safety.

Apartment manager Maria Pagel said the family declined to go to a motel when she offered it.

"She no want it. I can't push her," Pagel said.

But township officials made it clear that remaining in the apartment without a balcony should never have been an option.

For now, the township has cited management and the owner of the apartment with failing to maintain building safeguards - a civil infraction.

Fire Chief Matt Covey said you always want to have a way out of a home in case of fire or medical emergency and construction should never have started until everyone was out.