At least 14 hurt after deck collapse at North Carolina beach

Cateret County News-Times/ Jackie Starkey via ABC News

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (AP) — A deck collapsed at a North Carolina beach house as a family got set to take a group photo, leaving at least 14 people injured with two of those in critical condition, authorities said.

A spokeswoman at a nearby hospital later said 20 people, including a young child, were rushed to that one hospital alone following the Saturday evening incident, indicating the injury total was higher.

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.

Police said at least two people were in critical condition Saturday night of the 14 that agency reported as injured. In addition, the police news release said another victim was airlifted to a New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Officials at both hospitals declined give conditions for the injured Sunday morning.

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.

“There was a lot of people … but luckily we pulled together and (the emergency operation) went like clockwork,” he said. “Our department was the first department in,” he said, adding he ran a “command and action center” to coordinate fire, police and emergency medical personnel called in from several nearby communities.

He said there may have been more people present than the 14 reported injured by police but he didn’t count them. He added that injuries ranged from minor cuts and abrasions to more severe injuries that appeared to include broken bones.

Walker said a specialized mass casualty bus also had been brought in and that it took at least eight of the victims to one nearby hospital.

He said such a deck collapse was uncommon. “It’s been about 10 years since we’ve had one of these so it’s not an everyday occurrence,” he said.

Carteret General Hospital spokeswoman Tonya Fluellenin said the hospital saw 20 people, including two brought in a private car. She said six of them were sent to other hospitals, and the injuries ranged from serious to critical.

“We’ve seen a little bit of everything. I can’t give you a whole lot of detail but we’ve seen some orthopedic injuries,” she added, citing patient privacy laws. She declined to elaborate further on a young child she said was injured.

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 that the cause of the collapse wasn’t yet known.

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

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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