A near disaster ends in a moment of joy

A quarter-century ago on the second Monday of March, a drainage problem on the roof of a Millvale bank nearly turned disastrous.

It also managed to make headlines across the country from Pensacola, Fla., to Sioux Falls, S.D. – imagine if we had the viral news cycle back then – because of one little twist: One of the employees working inside at the time went into labor when the ceiling caved in.

Surely, roofs of banks collapse around pregnant women all the time, right? So, why is this one worth revisiting 25 years later? Well, because I’m now related to the miracle mom and tot, who just celebrated his 25th birthday.

Author Brian Batko is a Post-Gazette sportswriter.

My wife and I have been together since high school, a little more than nine years now, and tied the knot in July. But I never knew about her brother’s very newsworthy origin story until it came up in family conversation a few years back.

On March 9, 1992, my now-mother-in-law was working as the bank manager at Pittsburgh National Bank’s Millvale branch. As the Post-Gazette wrote it then, “Ellen Kline’s day began with disaster … It ended with joy when she gave birth to a son.”

She and eight others were injured when the roof fell in at 10:44 a.m., but the day had a happy ending when Alex Kline Jr. was born at 10:09 p.m. He was due March 22, but, “I guess the shock kind of woke the baby up and he said, ‘It’s my time,’ ” my father-in-law, Alex Kline Sr., told the Post-Gazette that day.

“She’s tired, but she’s OK,” he told Pittsburgh Press reporter Ed Blazina, now a colleague of mine at the Post-Gazette.

Some of the photos from that incident distinctly show the shock and fear of some of the other bank employees that day, but the ones of my family are fun to look at. I asked my mother-in-law why she was wearing a coonskin cap that day, but she corrected me that was just her early-90s hairstyle. And to see my father-in-law quoted in the stories? Somewhat surreal. Even my wife, Chelsea, is mentioned as being the couple’s 15-month-old daughter at the time.

For a current update on these local news stars after their 15 minutes of fame, Alex and Ellen had two more kids but no more boys, so it’s a good thing Alex Jr. came out of the collapse unscathed. Speaking of him, he’s now an assistant football coach at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. You’d think he would’ve been destined to become a banker.

Alex Kline Sr., Alex Kline Jr. and Ellen Kline.


  1. historyman

    Love the story. So sweet. Thank you!

  2. Gig

    Great story. Happy ending to a sweet family.

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