High School Athlete Killed By Collapsed Awning

Fellow member of Bridgeport cross-country team injured

One teenage girl was killed and another was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon when an awning collapsed in the Wise County town of Bridgeport.

Leslie Dennison, 17, and Rebekeh Logan, 17, both seniors at Bridgeport High School, were training for the school's cross-country team, city spokeswoman Amber Fogelman said.

The girls were running down Halsell Street in downtown Bridgeport when a 40-foot section of aluminum awning and some concrete and bricks came crashing down, Fogelman said.

"It wasn't like one big boom," said Corina Rodriguez, who was working in a nearby boutique. "It was like a domino crashing."

Dennison, who was also a high school cheerleader, was killed.

Logan, who had severe cuts to her face, was airlifted to John Peter Smith Hospital, where she was released early Wednesday.

Dennison was remembered in a candlelight vigil attended by dozens of classmates outside the school.

"She was such a sweet girl," said Jaime Sturdivant, Bridgeport High School's principal. "She was so positive, just a joy to be around."

Dennison's mother teaches elementary school and also is well-known in the district, Sturdivant said.

"I think there's a lot of shock right now," Fogelman said. "How do you explain it? How do you explain they were running by and an awning fell on them? You can't."

Authorities suspect that the age of the building, which was built in the 1960s, and structural fatigue may have contributed to the collapse, Fogelman said Wednesday. A city engineer inspected the site and was expected to release a preliminary report by Thursday, she said.

The collapse of the awning over Club Barbell left a heap of debris strewn across the parking area and into the road. A separate storefront awning next door to the gym remained intact.

Officials were still trying to determine when the awning was built and researching the business' building permits and inspection records, but "at this point it appears to be a freak accident," Fogelman said.

Club Barbell was closed Wednesday because of damage to the building, although city workers removed the debris and some bricks and concrete left hanging after the awning collapsed.

Gary Emmert, who was listed on the door as the owner and personal trainer, did not immediately return a message left at his home Wednesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us