Investigation, clean up continue at Shuckers’ deck collapse

Two days after the deck at Shuckers Bar & Grill collapsed into Biscayne Bay, crews were still fishing out the chairs, cups, plates, condiments, bags and any remaining items out of the debris-infested water.

Boaters and Jet Skis pulled close to what was once the pier, watching as investigators searched Saturday for a cause as to why the deck suddenly gave in, dropping about 100 patrons who had been drinking, eating and cheering on the Miami Heat into the shallow water Thursday night.

The answer to their question, “How could this have happened?” remains unanswered.

Yellow caution tape surrounded the property along the 79th Street Causeway in North Bay Village, and security guards were on hand to keep observers out.

The restaurant remains closed, but the adjacent Best Western Plus Hotel is open.

Shuckers owner Chris Grentne, who was inside the restaurant while the clean-up continued, would not comment Saturday.

About two dozen people were originally injured, with 15 transported to the hospital.

One unidentified victim, who has requested privacy, remained at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Saturday. Two others were released Friday.

According to records, Shuckers was inspected six months ago, but engineer Steven Jawtiz told officials that he did not inspect the deck.

“Waterfront and ancillary are not part of the inspection,” he told the Miami Herald on Friday.

North Bay Village officials now question Jawitz’s interpretation of his 30-page report.

“In the report, he mentions the deck as part of the evaluation,” said North Bay Village Public Works Director Rodney Carrero.

The report was signed off by City Building Official Raul Rodriguez.

Florida’s building code requires a building that has been in existence for 40 years to be inspected. In 2011, North Bay Village notified Shuckers that the inspection was due, and on Jan. 22 of this year, Jawitz submitted his inspection on behalf of Shuckers’ owner, Inn on the Bay, records show.

The question of whether the deck inspection took place is important because public records suggest the deck may have been in need of an upgrade.

In 2009, Shuckers’ owners spent thousands of dollars on permits for a massive renovation project that would essentially rebuild the 120-by-30-foot wooden deck, which juts out into Biscayne Bay.

But the project seems to have been abandoned. There is no record of a final inspection at North Bay Village City Hall.

Although the popular hang out had drawn a large crowd to watch the Heat in the NBA finals, most patrons were inside the open-air restaurant watching the game on the two dozen flat-screen TVs, and not on the deck itself.

“We are at the moment investigating the structure,’’ North Bay Village Police Chief Bob Daniels said Friday. “The engineers are taking a closer look at it. They are certain it is some type of a structural incident.”

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