Deck Collapse in Connecticut Injuring 30 Students: Shows Need for Regular Structural Inspections
Unfortunately, we can all picture this scene. On a Saturday night (September 10, 2016 to be exact), college students at a three-story house owned by Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut were having a house party. About 50-60 students were on the decks off the third, second and first floors, having a good time, when the third story deck broke and collapsed onto the second floor deck, which in turn collapsed onto the first story deck.
The scene must have been horrific and chaotic, with about 30 students suffering injuries that required that the students be taken to six different hospitals. Luckily, the most serious injuries were a broken arm and a head injury, no one died or suffered serious injuries.
The Connecticut students were much luckier that the six students who died and seven that were seriously injured when a balcony that they were on collapsed in June 2015 near UC Berkeley, in California.
Hartford Connecticut Police Department Deputy Chief Brian Foley commented: “At this point, the third floor, you look and see the wood was very rotted and very old and structurally not very sound.”
The balcony collapse in Berkeley, California was also caused by severe dry rot, and led to 13 lawsuits. Only time will tell how many lawsuits result from this latest deck collapse.
Appropriate and timely structural examinations could have likely prevented the collapse of these decks and the injuries and deaths. As these examples point out, defective construction sometimes occurs, repairs or renovations are done improperly, or maintenance is not up to par. Any of these can lead to wood rot and deterioration that create dangerous and unsafe conditions. In our experience, defective waterproofing at decks and balconies which allows water intrusion that causes rot is a problem that we have seen time and time again. In Hawaii’s challenging moist and salt air environment, regular structural evaluations of decks and balconies by qualified professional is recommended to ferret out such problems before they occur, and to avoid preventable injuries and even death.
For more information on the Connecticut collapse, see: