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Beachfront deck collapse in North Carolina injures 21

A group of 25 people was standing on the second-story deck of a beachfront condominium in Brunswick County, North Carolina, when it collapsed without warning on July 9. Twenty-one out of the 25 were injured. Their ages ranged from infant to senior citizen. It is a relief that none of the injuries was considered life-threatening, but all 21 were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Few details are currently available. The deck collapse occurred around 8:15 p.m., according to USA TODAY. A neighbor recalled hearing wood breaking and the screams of the people on the deck as it fell onto a concrete patio below.

Victims were taken to three nearby hospitals, including New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington. It appears that four of those on the deck managed to get back inside the condo before the collapse. For the rest, the extent of the injuries is not clear, though a person who said he was present at the collapse said that many victims were still in the hospital the next day. The neighbor saw a man wearing a leg case returning to the condo.

It will require an official investigation to determine what caused the deck to give way. It is possible that the deck was not properly maintained by its owner, or that it was built with defective materials or with a hazardous design. There may also have been a weight limit for the deck that the people renting the condo never learned about.

The mayor of the town where the accident occurred said that she would like to pass stronger safety standards for oceanfront decks but that North Carolina law forbids local governments from setting higher standards than those promulgated by the state.

Source: WECT-TV, "Infants, elderly among injured in Ocean Isle Deck Collapse," July 10, 2013

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