Final report on deck collapse blames nails

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The final report on the dangerous beach house deck collapse in Emerald Isle confirms what investigators first suspected: corroded nails were the issue.

The town released the report Tuesday night, which also discussed how the town is limited in steps it can take to prevent future issues.

The deck at a beach house on the 4400 block of Ocean Drive collapsed Saturday evening when more than 20 people gathered on the deck for a family photo. The people fell fourteen feet to the ground below. Twenty-four people were sent to the hospital. The town says they have not received information on the injured since Sunday morning, when five people were still in the hospital. Two were in critical condition.

Emerald Isle's report says state law prohibits the town and the county
from doing periodic building code or deck inspections of vacation rental units. It's the responsibility of the homeowner or property management company.

Click here to read the final report on the deck collapse from Emerald Isle.



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911 calls depicting the terrifying moments after more than 20 people fell 14 feet from a beach house deck to the ground in Emerald Isle Saturday night, were released Tuesday.

The collapse happened as a family from Virginia gathered to take a photo at a home on Ocean Drive.

Carteret County Emergency Management released some of those 911 calls that poured in after the accident.

In one, a caller says, "Yea we're on the beach on like uh 4309 Ocean Drive and the deck has collapsed.

In another, a caller says, "There's a lot of people that are not moving. They're injured. Head injuries, facial injuries, lacerations. We've got a lot of people. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21."

Emerald Isle town officials say 5 people remain hospitalized following the collapse.

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Emerald Isle town officials say 5 people remain hospitalized following the collapse of a deck at an ocean front home on July 4th.

Town Manager Frank Rush says the collapse happened in the 4400 block of Ocean Drive just before 7 p.m. Saturday.

Rush says there were over 20 people on one-third of the deck when it collapsed, dropping them 14 feet to the ground. Preliminary reports show floor joists and deck boards collapsed due to deteriorating nails.

Five people are still hospitalized. Four are at Vidant Medical Center and one other person is at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Two remain in critical condition. First responders say the injuries include some bone fractures and spinal injuries. Most of the family is from Northern Virginia, but some are from other states. Ages of those injured range from 5-94.

NBC News reports that over the past decade, 4,600 emergency room visits were associated with deck collapses. In the U.S., an estimated 40 million residential decks and 10 million commercial decks are more than 20 years old.

Experts say there are easy ways to check your deck:
-look for split or decaying wood, paying special attention to areas that stay damp.
-push on railings and banisters to make sure there's no give
-make sure all fasteners are tight and not rusted.

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Emerald Isle town officials say preliminary reports show floor joists and deck boards collapsed due to deteriorating nails, injuring dozens at a 4th of July family gathering.

Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush and other officials addressed the media at a press conference late Sunday afternoon. He says Bluewater Vacation Rentals is being cooperative in the investigation. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and others for injuries received in this horrible accident. We are also asking everyone in this community for their thoughts and prayers for this family," written in a statement from Bluewater.

The house is individually owned by a North Carolina family but managed by Bluewater. The house was built in 1986.

Rush says there were over 20 people on one-third of the deck when it collapsed, dropping them 14 feet to the ground. He says that section of the deck is 12x12 ft. There are no hard and fast rules on how many people can occupy a porch. "The NC Building Code requires all new construction and repairs to meet applicable requirements at the time work is completed. Neither the NC Building Code nor the Town of Emerald Isle ordinances require periodic inspections of existing, occupied homes unless deficiencies are noted or complaints are received," Rush said.

A final investigative report will be released to the public when it is complete. The town will research whether they have authority to put occupation limits on decks.

Officials say the piling supports and the other two-thirds of the deck are still intact, but it's all deemed unsafe. No one will occupy the rental property for now.

Five people are still hospitalized. Four are at Vidant Medical Center and one other person is at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Two remain in critical condition. First responders say the injuries include some bone fractures and spinal injuries. Nearby vacationer Jonathan Beasley said he couldn't stand by and watch. He helped out during what he calls a hectic time. "Chaotic. A lot of screaming and broken bones. Blood. Not something you want to see everyday obviously. Pretty sad, too," Beasley said.

Most of the family is from Northern Virginia, but some are from other states. Ages of those injured range from 5-94. The official number of those injured was set at 24. Some had been transported via medical helicopters and EMS while others were privately taken to area hospitals.

The Town of Emerald Isle has expressed their deepest concern for the family members involved in the accident.

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A hospital spokesperson says 17 patients have been treated and released from Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City following the collapse of a deck at an oceanfront home July 4th.

Police say a vacationing family was posing for a photo just before 7 p.m. when the deck gave way. They say at least 14 people were injured, including two who were airlifted to Vidant Medical Center and New Hanover Regional Medical Center, respectively.

Michelle Lee, Community Relations Director at Carteret General, says 23 people initially came in to CGH having suffered injuries from the collapse. However, 6 people were transferred to other hospitals. She says the remaining 17 have since been released.

Police said Saturday that at least 2 people were in critical condition. They're holding a press conference at 4 p.m. to address what happened.

Meanwhile, the oceanfront property in the 4400 block of Ocean Drive in Emerald Isle is blocked off with caution tape. Signs reading "unsafe" and "no trespassing" are also posted.

The home where it happened is a Bluewater Vacation Rental property. WITN reached out to them for comment. The woman who answered the phone said she did not have any information, and it is still under investigation. We will let you know if they respond with more detail.


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At least 14 people are receiving treatment for injuries they received when a deck collapsed at an oceanfront home in Emerald Isle, according to Emerald Isle police.

Police received an emergency call just before 7 p.m. in the 4400 block of Ocean Drive.

Two people have been airlifted to the hospital, while at least 12 others were transported to the hospital via EMS. One person was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center. A second person was airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Police say at least two people are in critical condition. Conditions of the other victims weren't immediately available.

Town Manager Frank Rush says the family is from Virginia. Police say they were posing for a photo when the deck gave way and collapsed, although police say they don't officially know what caused it to collapse.
Indian Beach, Atlantic Beach, PinKnoll Shores and Western Carteret all sent Fire and EMS units to assist, while Broad and Gales Creek Fire Departments were also dispatched to provide assistance. Morehead City EMS provided a mass casualty bus to treat the victims.


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Emergency crews are at the scene of a deck collapse in Emerald Isle, according to Emerald Isle police.

An initial call before 7:30 p.m. said that over 20 people were involved. The extent of the injuries aren't known at this time.

Stay connected to WITN-TV and WITN.com for more as this story develops.