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An Urban Explorer Gone

For some, the lure of the old Gates factory is undeniable. And it was deadly for one.

"You open the door, and five steps in, my son plummets thirty feet," says Larry Polzin. "The decision to do nothing was still a decision. They could've covered the pit, they could've chained the door, they could've welded it shut. And they did nothing."

True, Johnny went to Gates with the intent of trespassing on private property. But the legal theory behind the litigation is simple: If a property owner is aware of a hazard and does nothing to mitigate the danger, then the owner can be held responsible for injuries caused by the hazard. Johnny is gone, but others could be saved. Today, the doorway to Unit 41 is boarded up and secured. From the outside, you can't see the pit.

"It's pretty depressing, really," Joe Hicks says of Gates. "I want to go back again before it's knocked down completely." But he's also reluctant, given Helms's arrest and Johnny's death.

Talk of the old factory and what happened there fills an urban-explorers online thread. "I was gonna hit the shit out of Gates when I come for Christmas," one poster says. "Now that I read the guy died, I can also easily skip visiting it.... Falling scares the shit out of me."

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