Balcony in deadly California collapse had been inspected last year

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 30, 2015 6:40 PM

(Reuters) - An apartment balcony that collapsed this month in Berkeley, California, killing five visiting Irish college students and an American friend, had been inspected last August and found to be in good condition, records released by the city show.

After the June 16 balcony collapse, city inspectors found wooden support beams on the fourth-floor balcony were badly decayed, apparently from moisture.

But the company that examined the Library Gardens apartment complex on Aug. 15, 2014, Riverstone Residential, noted that the supports, deck surface, rails and underside of all balconies at the building were in good condition, according to the documents, released by the city on Monday.

The documents did not indicate how closely the balcony was inspected.

A representative for Riverstone Residential, which has been acquired by the Greystar real estate management company, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Authorities have said 13 people attending a birthday party on June 13 had crowded onto the balcony before it ripped away from the exterior wall of the apartment building and pitched over 90 degrees, sending its occupants falling 40 feet (12 meters) to the street below. Seven people were also hospitalized in the collapse.

The city inspectors' report released last week did not reach a conclusion about the underlying cause of the decay that was visible in the splintered ends of the horizontal support beams that snapped off just beyond the face of the building.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)