Lexington VA Deck Collapse UPDATE: Faulty bolt attachment left WLU students hurt

05/24/2010 // West Palm Beach, Florida, USA // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

Lexington, VA—According to Rockbridge County building inspector, a backyard deck’s “faulty attachment” to a house caused the deck collapse that injured about 30 Washington and Lee University students. The incident occurred on Friday, May 14, 2010, during an off-campus college party, as reported by Roanoke.com and previous reports by Justice News Flash.

Building Official Erich Schnetzler inspected the deck after the Friday night incident. Upon doing so, Schnetzler reported the bolts, which were meant to secure the deck to the house, did not “penetrate a 6-inch beam beneath the house’s wood siding and ¾-inch timber sheathing”.

Schnetzler stated, “The students on the deck heard a loud crack… Everybody got real quiet, and then the whole thing just dropped.” There were 75 to 80 students on the deck when it came down at approximately 11:20 p.m.

Freshman WLU student Drew Martin was standing approximately 15 feet away from the deck when the unthinkable occurred. “I think there was an initial shift before it all collapsed… Then the whole thing just kind of dropped. After it dropped, there was silence, then a single scream, and then it went into panic mode,” Martin reported. He subsequently called 911.

Rescue teams subsequently arrived at the scene, located at 664 Greenhouse Road, to assess the situation. A total of 22 WLU were treated at Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital for injuries suffered in the porch collapse.

Shentzler described the cause of the deck collapse as “failure due to faulty attachment”. He also noted that the deck was built in compliance with the standards of the county building code at the time. The building permit for the deck was issued in 1998, while the deck in itself was constructed about 10 years ago.

Tenants at the off-campus house wrote a letter to Rockbridge Weekly in which they stated, “We realize the accident could have had even more significant [consequences] than those of which we are aware…The porch collapse taught us all a valuable lesson of the importance of public safety and event planning.”

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers.

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