This is so very sad.
I know the porch was probably not up to code. A friend of mine died after falling from a balcony in an apartment complex I lived in during college. The back railing simply broke off. He and another guy (also a friend) were moving a mattress and had leaned against the railing for support. They fell about 25 feet.
It was really freaky to step outside my back door and look at a gaping maw where the porch railing once was, say, 5 minutes earlier. Old Chicago buildings shouldn't have wooden porches. It's that simple. You can't expose that wood to the elements year after year and expect it to hold up forever.
I hope this incident and the attention it's getting lead to better building inspections and construction, and not some kind of occupancy rating for balconies.