A deck collapse on St. Patrick’s Day at a Georgia bar injured 14 people, including two who sustained serious injuries. Investigators are looking into the cause of the deck failure, with early reports suggesting the problem was not overcrowding. Though structural collapses are not common, they often have terrible consequences for their victims, some of whom are on the deck itself and others who might be below it.
Rogue Water Tap House Deck Fell 12 Feet onto Bar Patrons
Around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, the deck at Rogue Water Tap House in Savannah collapsed, injuring at least 14 people who went to the hospital. Of those, responders classified two people as being in serious condition.
The deck fell from 12 feet and landed on people who were underneath it. Restaurant workers told reporters people ran inside the restaurant yelling to call 911. Patrons who were inside the bar ran to the back to see if they could provide help.
“I ran in the back and some people were running in the back and I was yelling at people to get out,” said one patron who is a firefighter visiting Savannah from New York. “Get out. That’s what happened and I just did what I did.”
Emergency officials responded to the scene of the downtown Savannah deck collapse quickly as bartenders tried to assist in any way they could.
“People are flying out trying to get out of the bar,” said Brian Holloway, who was visiting from out of town. “My son and all the other bartenders went back to find out what was going on.”
In all, 14 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Some were treated and released while others were admitted with more serious injuries. Friends of some of the victims said that among the injuries were broken ribs and a broken scapula.
Was Deck Maintenance a Factor in Savannah Deck Collapse?
First responders have already ruled out overcrowding as a reason for the structural failure, but they haven’t indicated what might have caused the failure. Some experts speculate that improper maintenance could be an issue. Among the issues that businesses face with decks are improper construction or lack of proper maintenance. Although Savannah’s Fire Marshall inspected the Rogue Water Tap House in February, that inspection only covered fire hazards and building capacity. Deck integrity is not included in the inspection.
Owner of Rogue Water Tap House Releases Statement
Chris Clarke, who owns Rogue Water Tap House, released a statement regarding the Savannah deck collapse.
“We are deeply saddened by the terrible incident that occurred today during a time of celebration in our city. Our thoughts are with those injured and impacted. The safety of our customers and staff are of the utmost importance and we have been working closely and cooperating fully with the City of Savannah Fire Marshal and building inspector.”
Deck and Balcony Collapses Not Common, but They Can be Deadly
Although balcony collapses are not common, they can have devastating consequences for their victims. In 2015, a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California. Six people died and another seven were injured when the balcony they were on detached from the wall. Investigators found the fourth-floor balcony detached due to dry rot, which is caused by water damage.
Following the Berkeley balcony collapse, The Associated Press and the Consumer Product Safety Commission ran an analysis regarding deck collapses. They found that from 2003 to 2015, approximately 6,500 people were taken to emergency rooms following incidents involving collapsing decks or porches. Of those, 29 died from their injuries.
Thirteen of the 29 died in 2003 when a porch in Chicago collapsed.
Among the most common causes of deck and porch failures is dry rot. Dry rot can cause balconies to become weak, increasing the risk of failure. Building owners and landlords are responsible for ensuring entire building structures—including the balconies—are safe for people to use.
In 2017, approximately 50 people were injured when the balcony at a two-story building collapsed. Officials indicated that 32 people were taken to local hospitals for treatment, while others were treated at a mass casualty incident trailer. Six of those who were injured were airlifted to the hospital. A statement from one of the hospitals indicated that they saw a “significant number of orthopedic and neurological injuries requiring immediate surgery.”
Building Collapse Attorneys
Building collapses—either full or partial collapses—can have devastating consequences for their victims. There are many factors that could cause a building to collapse, but most of the causes of structural failure are highly preventable, such as improper construction or maintenance. Attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman are experienced in investigating building failures and dedicated to holding those responsible accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a collapsed building, contact us today to discuss your options.