Bar deck collapse not caused by overcrowding - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Bar deck collapse not caused by overcrowding

(Source: WTOC viewer) (Source: WTOC viewer)
(Source: WTOC viewer) (Source: WTOC viewer)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

City officials and Savannah Fire say overcrowding didn't cause a Savannah bar deck to collapse on Saturday, but they gave no other explanation for the fall.

Fourteen people were injured when a deck at Rogue Water Tap House collapsed on St. Patrick's Day.

The city's Department of Development Sevices inspected and gave a Certificate of Occupancy for the building at 38 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in 2002 when the deck was built, but the city is not responsible for inspections after construction.

Patrick Riley, owner of National Property Inspections, said that's why it's so important for businesses to keep up their own maintenance.

"There are thousands of businesses," he said. "Code enforcement can't be everywhere. It really should be up to the owners or the tenants to make sure these things are maintained."

He said decks could collapse for a number of reasons. 

"One, they could be built improperly," Riley said. "Two, different maintenance happens a lot of times with decks. Typically, you're going to have wood rot with decks."

The Savannah Fire Marshal inspected the building on Feb. 28, 2018, but the department only looks for fire hazards and building capacity. 

Riley says getting a building periodically looked at by an inspector or a contractor may be the best way to prevent a problem. 

"Make sure these decks are being maintained," Riley said. "Make sure that the occupancy or the weight limit on these decks is being followed. I think if those two big things are done, and they're built by professionals, not by weekend handyman guy, then you know, hopefully, these things won't happen."

A friend of several people who were inside Rogue Water Tap House Saturday night says they have broken ribs, a shattered ankle and a broken scapula. 

The Scene

Chatham EMS was on the scene in minutes, as their command post was right around the block. 

Brian Holloway was visiting his son from Ohio and was sitting at the bar when it all happened. He said he had never seen anything like it. 

"People are flying out trying to get out of the bar," Holloway said. "My son and all the other bartenders went back to find out what was going on."

One firefighter was visiting from New York to celebrate St. Patrick's Day but ended up rescuing some of the victims. 

"I ran in the back and some people were running in the back and I was yelling at people to get out," the first responder said. "Get out. That's what happened and I just did what I did."

The deck fell from a height of 12 feet onto people underneath. The restaurant manager said they heard the siren going off and people came running inside asking for them to call 911. They say they did what a restaurant should never do in other situations, which is drop everything they were doing and tending to their customers.

Two had serious injuries, according to Savannah Fire. People received treatment at three local hospitals. 

EMS transported seven people to Memorial Hospital. The hospital admitted one of those patients. The other six left after being treated and released. 

Two also received treatment at a hospital. Both walked in. 

Emergency officials responded to the scene a little before 5 p.m. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was closed between Bay and Broughton Streets for a portion of time as first responders arrived at the scene. 

Chris Clarke, the owner of Rogue Water, has since released a statement, as seen below.

We are deeply saddened by the terrible incident that occurred today during a time of celebration in our city. Our thoughts are with those injured and impacted. 

The safety of our customers and staff are of the utmost importance and we have been working closely and cooperating fully with the City of Savannah Fire Marshal and building inspector.

The bar has since re-opened.

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved. 

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