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'It is nothing more than a giant tombstone' | Ohio mother wants abandoned building in which her son died to come down

The teens didn't break into the building in 2016. They didn't have to because it wasn't secured. What happened next changed their lives forever.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Many people have driven by one on their way to work or their kid's school. 

An old building that was closed for whatever reason. When nothing else happens, they can sit for years, becoming a major eyesore. 

They can also be deadly, inviting people into a dangerous situation. 

That's what's happening with the old Rosemary Apartments in North Toledo and it's still causing heartache for a local family. Losing a son, suddenly, is hard enough, but it's even worse when it could have been prevented. 

It brings tears to the eyes of Kerri Sorrell.

"You know everybody knows that's your worst nightmare," Sorrell said.

She can't get one night out of her head: June 8, 2016.

Her son Joshua went into the old, abandoned building at North Detroit and Phillips Avenue. 

RELATED: Teen dies after falling down elevator shaft, 911 call released

"Joshua and his friends were intrigued by a ghost story that surrounded the Rosemary Apartment building," Sorrell said. "That sent them out for an adventure and lured them into a building that they never should have stepped into."

They didn't break into the building. They didn't have to because it wasn't secured.

"They simply walked into it," Sorrell said.

What happened next changed the family forever.

"And they were exploring, doing things kids like to do," said Lt. Kellie Lenhardt, Toledo Police spokeswoman. "A couple of the kids were going up ahead of the group and jumping out of rooms, trying to scare the kids that were behind them and one of the kids took a fatal turn and fell down the elevator shaft, five stories to his death."

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That person who died was Sorrell's son, 16-year-old Joshua Sorrell.

She and her husband Brad, and their daughter Sarah, were stunned and devastated.

"His friends that were with him that night, they are scarred for life. They were just boys," Sorrell said.

That abandoned Rosemary apartment building still stands. The Sorrells say it's a real danger to others and a source of pain for them.

Credit: Tim Miller / WTOL

"It's just a huge eyesore and it is nothing more than a giant tombstone for our son, that people have to look at all the time," Sorrell said. It needs to come down."

Joshua was on the soccer team at Whitmer High School and a member of the Red Cross Club. He donated blood several times.

The family doesn't want anyone else to be killed or hurt in unsecured abandoned buildings.

City of Toledo spokesman Ignazio Messina told us the owners are current on property taxes but city Code Enforcement has had to take care of so-called nuisance conditions.

Messina said the owner has been billed for that work, but hasn't paid.

Messina added that demolition would be very expensive and there's no local, state, or federal dollars available for it. 

"This is a privately held property and the owner should take responsibility for removing this nuisance and tragic site from our community," Messina said in a statement.

Credit: Tim Miller / WTOL
Some, but not all, of the entrances to the building have been secured

J G Property Management has been listed as the owner, since May of 2001 with Jeff Gartz as the specific owner.

We called and left messages for Gartz to find out if he's taking the building's security seriously and to ask what plans he has for it.

He has not returned our calls.

"I can't understand how our community, how anybody would want these structures to remain," Sorrell said.

The Sorrells will continue their fight to tear it down but they also have to keep living with their grief. They know Joshua never got to live his dream of being a paramedic.

"That's all he ever wanted to do, was just help people," Sorrell said. 

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