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2 Investigators: Where Light Poles May Fall Next

(CBS) -- Falling light poles have injured people and damaged property in Chicago.

Now, 2 Investigator Dave Savini uncovers thousands of complaints to the city that shed light on the neighborhoods that are most at-risk.

India Cooley called police last summer when she found her parked car smashed by an old rusty light pole.

"The top of the pole is on my hood," Cooley says. "The bottom of the pole was just sticking out."

She adds: "We all saw the rust. We all saw that it was damaged. It was completely faulty at the bottom."

Despite thousands of dollars in damage, the city refused to pay her claim.

"Even though it was rusted," Cooley says. "Even though they are completely, 100 percent at fault."

A teen suffered a broken leg in 2016, and a 13-year-old's spine was fractured in 2007. Both were walking from school had faulty poles fall on them.

The 2 Investigators obtained 3-1-1 complaints, since 2015, involving fallen or leaning light poles. There were more than 10,000 complaints.

CBS 2 mapped the data to find the top five wards with the most complaints.

Ranking fifth: the 41st Ward, near O'Hare International Airport. There were 327 complaints, including for poles outside of Taft High School. Bus driver Moses Williams expressed concern for the students after seeing the rusted base.

"The whole bottom is just rotting out," he says. "I don't want to park here no more."

In fourth place, the 27th Ward, with 331 complaints.

In third place, the 5th Ward. That is where the 2 Investigators found poles in poor condition more than a year after first exposing rusted-out poles along the University of Chicago campus. This ward had 336 complaints.

"It's very disappointing that the city has not taken care of this," student Jack Toole says.

The 42 Ward comes in second, with 353 complaints. There are poles with holes and leaning along Grant Park; with bolts breaking away from the ground or bases rusted through.

Coming in first: the 28th Ward, with 376 complaints. It is where the 2 Investigators found a leaning pole with bolts in need of tightening and a broken concrete base.

The 28th Ward also came in first with the most complaints of fallen light poles and property damage, too.

Ald. Jason Ervin says his ward has the most complaints because his office files many of them to get the city to fix the poles.

"It's a safety concern," he says. "Those things need to be changed. Those poles need to be changed out."

Problem poles were outside of schools and in front of businesses.

"It's going to take one death for them to do something about it," said Cooley. "But they have the opportunity do something now."

The city denies damage claims like Cooley's, unless officials are told a pole is dangerous before it falls.

The data shows 327 complaints of property damage and 57 complaints of poles causing injuries.


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