Published June 14, 2013
An outdoor patio deck at a popular Miami-area sports bar collapsed Thursday during the NBA Finals, injuring dozens of people, authorities said.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief David Downey said 24 people were taken to hospitals. Many had cuts and bruises, though one person suffered a fracture. By midday Friday, only one person remained hospitalized with unknown injuries.
Authorities said about 100 people were on the deck of Shucker's Bar & Grill in North Bay Village, north of Miami Beach, when it gave way.
Lt. Ignatius Carroll of Miami Fire-Rescue said said rescuers pulled patrons from Biscayne Bay, and that divers were searching waters underneath the collapsed deck as helicopters shined spotlights onto the area.
Bar customers and rescuers pulled people from the bay amid a chaotic scene. One witness said there was yelling and crying, and that some patrons jumped into the water to help while others pulled those who'd fallen from the water.
One witness, Martin Torres, 42, of Los Angeles, said he heard a loud explosion and though a boat had struck the deck. He said he looked out from the restaurant and saw people staring up from the water, and then he and others started helping pull patrons out of the water.
Torres said he looked down and "these girls were looking up. We started grabbing them. They got crazy. People started pushing toward us."
Lt. Eugene Germain, spokesman for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said most of those injured had cuts but one patient suffered a fracture.
He said 50 units responded, and divers were deployed -- the water was about 4 feet deep right where the deck was -- as air rescue units lit up the scene. Rescuers talked with eyewitnesses and they were able to account for persons they were with.
"We did an extensive search and after completing the search, we didn't find any other victims," he said.
There was initially some concern that people might have been trapped in the water beneath the crumpled deck, but Downey said crews had completed their search and everyone was accounted for.
"According to witnesses, a lot of people jumped in to help," Downey said. "Those efforts can make a lot of difference sometimes."
The accident occurred around 9:45 p.m. as customers were watching the Miami Heat play the San Antonio Spurs.
Chris Volz was sitting about 10 feet from where the deck gave way. He told the Miami Herald the collapse happened in a split second and that no one had the opportunity to get away.
"Everybody’s watching the game. It sounded like a freight train, then everyone was gone. The deck went down like a V," Volz told the newspaper.
WSVN-TV news director Tom Tuckwell told the news station that he had his back to the bay when he heard an enormous roar. When he turned around, he saw people disappeared beneath them.
Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade said after the game, "I'd like to share our concerns as an organization and our gratitude to our fans back in Miami, but share our concerns for all that were injured tonight at Shucker's restaurant."
North Bay Village Mayor Connie Leon Kreps went to the scene and said she was at least grateful that no one had died.
"This is a real tragedy," she said. "Shuckers has been here for many, many years. People come from all around to enjoy the view and the food. This is really unfortunate."
She said the city would undertake a thorough investigation of what caused the collapse.
North Bay Village is a small island in Biscayne Bay with a strip of restaurants, hotels, houses and condos that is attached by causeways to the mainland and also on to Miami Beach. Pouring rain fell early Sunday near the Shuckers site but little was visible as the deck was on the other side from the road jutting into the bay.
Though not as trendy as South Beach, North Bay Village is one of the many tourist spots in and around Miami where locals and visitors converge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.