A deck collapsed at a North Carolina beachhouse as a family got set to take a group photo Saturday evening, leaving at least 14 injured with two of those in critical condition, authorities said.
Emerald Isle Police Chief Jeffrey Waters said an emergency call came in at 6:59 p.m. Saturday and first responders arrived within minutes at the oceanfront home in that resort community packed with beachgoers for the long holiday weekend.
“The family was on the deck preparing to take a family photo when the event occurred,” the police statement said. It added that first responders from Emerald Isle immediately began treating and triaging the injured.
“Due to the number of casualties involved, neighboring agencies were called in to assist in transporting and dealing with the victims,” the statement added.
Police said at least two of the victims were in critical condition of the 14 taken to area hospitals. In addition to the two victims in critical condition, the police news release said, another victim was airlifted to a regional medical center. It said the severity of injuries to the rest of the 14 was not immediately known and their identities and relations to each other weren’t disclosed.
The statement said the cause of the collapse wasn’t immediately known.
Fire Chief Bill Walker told The Associated Press by phone that a deck area he estimated to be about 12 feet by 12 feet gave way from around 10 to 12 feet above the ground.
“It was a one-story house on pilings,” he said, adding the victims were all found in one concentrated area where the deck had collapsed.
He said he didn’t undertake a count but there may have been more people present than the 14 reported injured by police.
Nonetheless, he said, it wasn’t immediately clear how many were on the deck at the time though he told AP the injuries ranged from minor cuts and abrasions to more severe trauma.
“I’m sure they had some broken bones,” he told AP, adding all were swiftly transported to area hospitals.
Walker said a specialized mass casualty bus brought in from a nearby city transported at least eight of the victims to the hospital. One local television station reported on the airlift and showed a helicopter flying in the area.
“Our department was the first department in,” he said, adding he helped to set up and supervise an instant “command and action” center.
“It’s been about 10 years since we’ve had one of these so it’s not an everyday occurrence,” he added.
The police chief, Waters, told AP he had no further information to release late Friday beyond his emailed statement.