Review shows deaths seldom occur in balcony collapses

AP News
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Posted: Jun 18, 2015 5:11 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — 2 p.m. PDT

A review of hospital ER visits shows that balcony collapses such as the one that killed six students in Berkeley, California, are seldom deadly, but an estimated 6,500 people have been injured in porch and deck failures in the past decade.

The analysis prepared for The Associated Press by the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that some 4,600 emergency room visits were associated with deck collapses, and another 1,900 with porch failures.

The commission identified just 10 fatalities that occurred after a Chicago porch collapse in 2003 killed 13 people.

Those 10 fatalities do not include the six college students, including five from Ireland, who died Tuesday while seven others were injured in Berkeley when a crowded deck cracked from a building.

Family members who arrived from Ireland were planning funerals for those killed and visiting Thursday with those who were injured.

Experts and city officials have said the balcony might have snapped off because supports had dry rotted, a problem that structural engineers say can be prevented through proper construction and maintenance aimed at sealing out water.

11 a.m. (PDT)

Autopsies have revealed that multiple blunt injuries caused the deaths of six students in a balcony collapse in Berkeley, California.

The results were released Thursday by Jesika Grubaugh, an Alameda County sheriff's technician with the coroner's bureau.

Five of the victims were 21-year-old students from Ireland who were in the U.S. on work visas. Another was a 22-year-old from Rohnert Park, California.

The students were at a birthday party when the crowded fifth-floor balcony broke off an apartment building. Seven other students were hospitalized.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said rotted wooden beams might have caused the collapse. He later said the theory was speculation and a cause had not been officially determined.

Grubaugh said she could not comment on whether the bodies of the victims have been released to their families.