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23 Hurt In Texas Deck Collapse

austindeckcollapse

A balcony of an Austin apartment collapsed early Sunday, sending dozens of party goers to area emergency rooms.

About 30 people were thrown screaming to the ground hours before dawn after the collapse of the second-floor balcony. As ambulances lined nearby streets, emergency medical workers tended to broken bones.

"People were just laying out everywhere," said Nicole Sullivan, who attended the party but wasn't injured in the accident.

The second-story balcony was attached to a three-story townhouse at Garden Court Condominiums, 4811 E. Oltorf. It collapsed about 4 a.m., Austin Fire Department officials said.

University Medical Center Brackenridge treated 23 people for injuries that ranged from superficial scratches to bone fractures, hospital spokeswoman Lauren Picarello said. No life-threatening injuries or fatalities were reported.

About a dozen came by ambulance and 10 drove themselves, Picarello said. Of those 10, five were put in critical care, she said.

Most of those injured had broken and fractured bones and jaws, Picarello said.

"They're all going to be OK," she said. "We're very thankful."

Other three-story townhouses at the complex had small wooden balconies on their second floors. The deck that collapsed was much larger and included a spiral staircase that led to a hot tub on the concrete patio below. Two metal support posts were positioned at the outside corners of the deck.

A preliminary inspection found that at the time of the collapse, about 30 people were on the 400-square-foot patio, exceeding the structure's weight limit, officials said. Elmore said the screws from the balcony anchoring it to the outer wall of the home appeared too small to hold the deck's weight.

American-Statesman staff writer Isadora Vail contributed to this report.



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