Madison: The site of a tragic fall last August has been made a little safer in preparation for the Mifflin Street block party.
A pile of wood on the sidewalk is what remains of the old second floor railing at 453 West Mifflin St. The new railing is now the required 42 inches high.
"The landlord did this in time for the annual block party because he didn't want to have another tragedy occur," says Alderman Mike Verveer.
The tragedy occurred last August at a party when a UW Freshman fell over the shorter railing and landed head first. He survived, but not without severe brain damage.
The shorter railing did not meet city code, but it was grandfathered in.
"Clearly in this case alcohol was the #1 factor, but if the railing had been higher perhaps he wouldn't have fallen," says Verveer.
The girls in the house across the street say the short railing made them uncomfortable. "The guys were still on it later on in the fall and they've been on it recently. You just hope they don't drink out there," says Edgewood Sr. Kari Teasdale.
Alderman Verveer says the city takes porch safety seriously. They inspect every porch before the Mifflin Street Block Party at the end of April. "Every year there are multiple orders written as a result of the Mifflin Block party porch inspections."
"Last year the house next door couldn't have people on any porches so it's nice that they're regulating things," says UW Sr. Melissa Rach.
The girls say they'll do some regulating of their own for the block party. "Last year we didn't let anyone up just because even though ours is regulation you still get nervous about it," says Teasdale.
Verveer says he hopes people will see the new railing and remember to be careful. "The fall did raise the awareness level substantially at the beginning of the school year. Where that awareness level is today I don't know."
The mother of that injured student says her son is now walking and talking, but she knows he will never be the same.