The wooden patio cracked at 9:48 p.m. Thursday, then quickly split in a V-shape and plunged several feet with a roar into shallow waters. Callers to 911 said as many as 100 people were on the deck, behind the Best Western Plus on the Bay Inn & Marina, 1819 79th Street Causeway.
Miami-Dade police released those 911 calls on Friday.
“Please, there’s an emergency here...the whole deck fell into the water and I don’t know if people are OK!” one female patron told a Miami-Dade fire rescue dispatcher.
Two dozen people were injured, and paramedics took 15 to the hospital, including two in serious condition to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. As of Friday, only one person remained at Jackson, according to a hospital spokesman, who said the patient asked the hospital not to release any other information.
The incident grabbed national attention, and Heat guard Dwyane Wade mentioned it during his post-game comments.
“We share our concerns for all who were injured tonight at Shuckers restaurant,” he said.
Fire rescue crews extended ladders to help people climb to safety and searched Biscayne Bay after receiving frantic phone calls that loved ones might be missing. No one was.
On Friday, customers injured in the deck’s plunge returned to Shuckers to try and recoup their lost belongings, like purses and cell phones. The restaurant was closed for business.
Flavia Ellemberger arrived with a cervical collar, stitches on her forehead and one hand covered in plaster. She said she was eating with her husband and 6-year-old son when the deck caved in.
“I remember everybody was screaming and myself going down,” she said. When I could move I was under the water with a table on top.”
She said her son was not injured, but cried at the sight of her bloodied face.
Miami Herald writers Gregory Castillo, Fernando Peinado and WLRN- Miami Herald news reporter Kenny Malone contributed to this report.