17 out of Hospital in N. Carolina Beach House Deck Collapse

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
July 5, 2015 Updated: July 5, 2015

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. — Investigators are trying to determine what caused a deck to collapse as a family was taking a group photo at their rented beach house in North Carolina.

The collapse Saturday evening sent 23 people to the hospital, authorities said. The 17 people brought to Carteret General Hospital were all released by Sunday, hospital spokeswoman Michelle Lee said. She didn’t know the condition of the six other people sent from her hospital to other medical facilities.

Emerald Isle Police Chief Jeffrey Waters said an emergency call came in at 6:59 p.m. Saturday and first responders arrived within minutes at the oceanfront home in that barrier island resort community, which was packed with beachgoers for the long holiday weekend.

“The family was on the deck preparing to take a family photo when the event occurred,” the police statement said.

The house on Ocean Drive is a 6-bedroom, 5-bath oceanfront home with an elevator currently up for sale for nearly $1.15 million. It also is rented through Bluewater Real Estate. An employee at the rental office said Sunday morning that the company had no statement since the investigation is continuing, but sent thoughts and prayers to the family. She wouldn’t give her name.

Fire Chief Bill Walker told The Associated Press by phone that a deck area he estimated to be about 12 feet by 12 feet gave way from about 10 to 12 feet above the ground.

“It was a one-story house on pilings,” he said, adding many victims were found concentrated around the site of the collapse.

The injuries ranged from minor cuts and abrasions to more severe injuries that appeared to include broken bones, Walker said.

A specialized mass casualty bus was brought to the home to help get people to the hospital, the fire chief said.

“It’s been about 10 years since we’ve had one of these so it’s not an everyday occurrence,” Walker said.

Identities and relations of those injured weren’t disclosed. It also wasn’t immediately clear if a number of the injured were from one family.

Police said in their statement Saturday that the cause of the collapse wasn’t yet known. They did not return an email or phone call seeking more information Sunday.

Emerald Isle is one of several resort communities lining barrier islands tucked along the coast of the southeast corner of North Carolina.