Thirty people were injured when a dance floor at a clubhouse collapsed just after midnight on October 21 in Clemson, South Carolina. The wounded were at an annual homecoming weekend party sponsored by a Clemson University fraternity. They were dancing when the floor gave way. Some victims suffered critical injuries, highlighting how dangerous floor collapses and building collapses are.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Was Hosting Homecoming Party When Floor Collapsed
Clemson students and friends attended the homecoming weekend party, hosted by Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. The party, which started around 10:00 p.m., was held at an apartment clubhouse approximately three miles from Clemson University, in a building known as the Woodlands of Clemson.
Shortly after midnight on Sunday, October 31, the clubhouse dance floor gave way, sending partygoers plummeting into the basement and sending the clubhouse into chaos. Police responded to 911 calls at around 12:30 a.m. A dispatch call released by ABC notes nine people went to the hospital in critical condition and an additional seven who were suffering from trauma.
One witness told CNN that officials evacuated the building and victims were taken to local hospitals by ambulance or helicopter. According to reports, some patients remained in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries days after the South Carolina building collapse.
Clemson University President Jim Clements issued a statement thanking first responders and noted that his thoughts and prayers were with the students affected by the unfortunate incident.
Clemson University Students Recount Terrifying Structural Failure
Partygoers described dancing on the clubhouse floor and suddenly falling before blacking out. Others said they were surrounded by people who were covered with blood and crying. Jaylen Adams told CNN the floor suddenly felt like a trampoline and he told his friends they should get outside. Before they made it to safety, the floor collapsed.
“So everyone was jumping,” said Clemson University sophomore Larissa Stone. “The beat was about to drop, and literally the whole floor collapsed. People are under other people. People are hurt. People are bleeding. I had blood on my sneakers. It was really bad.”
Videos of the floor collapse have been posted online, with some showing people dancing happily before the floor gives way. Stone told reporters the clubhouse, which was booked for the private party, was packed and felt as though it had too many people.
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office released a 911 call where a caller is heard telling the dispatcher that the floor has collapsed and people have fallen through the hole and are hurt.
Police Investigating South Carolina Building Collapse
According to Clemson’s director of planning and codes, Todd Steadman, the clubhouse’s upstairs floor had a posted occupancy of 135 people. Steadman told USA Today that officials would review security camera footage to determine how many people were upstairs when the floor collapsed. Building inspectors approved the construction process when the clubhouse was built in 2004 by Dovetail Builders LLC. The clubhouse opened in 2005.
Before the floor collapsed, the police did not receive any complaints about the party.
Joe Galbraith, Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications at Clemson University, said it was not unusual for a fraternity to host events at off-campus facilities.
A subsequent letter from the Woodlands’ property management company to residents noted that the clubhouse floor had collapsed and advised residents that the clubhouse and pool area were off limits for everyone.
In 2017, Kappa Alpha Psi received a citation from Clemson University for causing damage to off-campus property during a fraternity event. The fraternity was required to prove that it paid the owners for the damage done.
Floor Collapses Are a Concern During Parties
Although floor collapses are rare, they do happen and they can cause severe injuries to victims. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2018 a deck collapsed at a bar in Savannah, injuring 14 people, including two that suffered serious injuries. Victims of the Rogue Water Tap House deck collapse filed lawsuits alleging the deck was a hazard that owners did not adequately maintain. In November 2017, four children went to the hospital after suffering neck and back injuries when a deck at a parkour facility collapsed during a “Kids Night Out” event.