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Officials: Corroded nails caused Emerald Isle deck collapse

A deck collapse at an Emerald Isle beach house on Saturday was caused by corroded nails, authorities said Sunday.

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EMERALD ISLE, N.C. — A deck collapse at an Emerald Isle beach house on Saturday was caused by corroded nails, authorities said Sunday.

"Preliminary findings indicate that floor joists and deck boards simply collapsed due to deteriorated fasteners (nails)," officials said in a statement. "Support pilings and other structural components remain intact."

While the deck would have met current construction standards, the “fasteners simply deteriorated,” officials said.

State building code does not require periodic home inspections unless deficiencies or complaints are noted. The home did not have any complaints on record, Emerald Isle City Manager Frank Rush said.

A final report on the collapse is expected to be released within the next few days, officials said.

Officials said 24 people, including a young child, were injured after the deck collapsed at 4403 Ocean Drive in the barrier island resort community. A family was preparing for a group photo at about 7 p.m. when the collapse occurred, authorities said.

Five people remain hospitalized on Sunday, including two in critical condition, authorities said. Four of the victims are at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. The fifth victim is at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

The victims’ names and the extent of their injuries were not immediately released. Their ages ranged from 5 to 94, officials said.

Emerald Isle Fire Chief Bill Walker said Saturday that the deck area, estimated to be about 12 feet by 12 feet, gave way from about 10 to 12 feet above the ground.

"It was a one-story house on pilings," he said, adding many victims were found concentrated around the site of the collapse.

"There was a lot of people ... but luckily we pulled together and (the emergency operation) went like clockwork," he added. "Our department was the first department in," he said, adding he ran a "command and action center" to coordinate fire, police and emergency medical personnel called in from several nearby communities.

Walker said a specialized mass casualty bus was also brought in and that it took at least eight victims to a nearby hospital.

He added that deck collapses are not common.

"It's been about 10 years since we've had one of these, so it's not an everyday occurrence," Walker said.

The collapse drastically changed Jonathan Beasley's vacation.

The 17-year-old from Dunn was driving with his family when he noticed the commotion.

"I've never seen anything like that before," he said. "For a second, I was in a shocked state but I just kind of pushed through it."

Beasley said he saw children, young adults and elderly people piled on top of each other.

"Had a bone sticking out of one elderly lady's elbow and I think she had another bone sticking out somewhere else," he said. "Had a guy that had a fracture on his ankle. His bone was out."

A trained lifeguard, Beasley said it only made sense for him to help.

"If there's anybody who needs help, you just jump in and put them first before you," he said.

Charles Harr, who lives three doors from the home, said deteriorating materials on his property is a continuing concern due to living so close to the beach. The Charlotte resident said that concern led him to complete some recent restoration work.

With Saturday's collapse, Harr said he will take even more precautions.

"Well I’ve already talked to the fellow who did the restoration work, and we’re going to have a maintenance contact and every year he’s going to do exactly that," he said.

Emerald Isle is one of several resort communities lining barrier islands tucked along the coast of the southeast corner of North Carolina. Police gave an address for the collapse as being a home, like many others, perched side by side in order rows just yards from a wide beach fronting the surf.

“This is really tragic,” Emerald Isle Mayor Eddie Barber told the Carteret County News-Times. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured, and well-wishes to their families.”

The six-bedroom, five-bathroom home was built in 1986 and is listed for sale on the real estate website for $1.1 million. It also is rented through Bluewater Real Estate. An employee at the rental office said Sunday morning that the company had no statement since the investigation is continuing, but sent thoughts and prayers to the family.


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