Five injured after porch collapses in Richmond

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (NBC12) - It was a scene that frightened many residents Saturday morning as an apartment balcony holding five people tumbled to the ground.

It happened at the Forest Place Apartments in the 3200 block of Midlothian Turnpike.

All five victims were brought to area hospitals with back and leg injuries.

They range in age from 26 to 30-years-old.

Residents say it was like a scene out of a movie.

"I turned around and happen to see just the patio tumble over," said resident Tiffany Matthews. "I just saw it so quick. It happened so quickly. It just tumbled right on over."

"We heard something go boom," said resident Novella Townes. "Then my brother peaked out the window and said somebody fell! People fell from the balcony."

The wooden deck ripped from the stability of the outside wall.

Five people had been standing on the second floor balcony when it plummeted to the ground.

"They were hurt," said Townes. "They were on the ground moaning and groaning. I was real scared. They looked like they were really in pain."

The second floor apartments in this Richmond complex have balconies 10 to 12 feet off the ground.

Fire officials say they were lucky no one ended up trapped beneath the fallen debris.

"Fortunately in this case there was no entrapment," said Richmond Fire Capt. Mark Wagner. "The porch fell one way. All the victims fell a different direction."

Building inspectors rushed to the scene to look for any structural issues.

They've asked the complex to draft a letter to all second-floor tenants, advising them to avoid the balconies until further inspections are complete.

We've found out the complex was built sometime around the 1960s and the city is assuming all decks were constructed in the same manner as the one that collapsed.

One fire official tells us in the nearly 10 years he's been with the department, he can't recall responding to the Forest Place complex for this kind of call.

But for now, residents will remain cautious.

"It just kinda scares me. I'm just glad I don't have a patio," said Matthews. "Of course not now, I would never go out there."

The building inspectors will be back on the property Monday afternoon to examine all other balconies in the complex.

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