Downtown parking deck collapse injures one

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A woman is recovering in the hospital tonight after falling through a parking deck staircase. The victim was walking down the stairs when they gave way. It happened in the Crowne Plaza, hotel parking deck on East Canal Street in Richmond.

The victim is expected to be okay. We're told she used that parking deck and walked down that staircase just about every day. Now, an investigation is underway to figure out what went wrong.

Sandra Alexander heard what happened here to her co-worker, but had to see for herself.

"Just seeing it like this it makes my stomach hurt," she said. "I didn't know it was this bad."

It's a shocking sight to see; crumbled concrete and a gaping hole on a staircase. A woman was on the third floor walking down the stairs when they gave way. She landed on the ground level.

"This shouldn't have happened. It took her by surprise. It's taken us by surprise and now she's injured," said Susan Manikus.

Susan Manikus works with the victim at the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority. The agency, which is across the street from the hotel, rents parking space at the Crowne Plaza for its employees.

Those who use the staircase regularly say there have been structural problems in the past.

"Holes have been in the steps with maybe just something thin being spread over it and painted to cover the hole up but the hole would still be there," Alexander said.

Toni Henry, who parks here three times a week, says she's stunned.

"I was frightened because that could have been me. I use their stairs," she said.

Henry calls the stairwell "shaky."

"It's like a trembling effect when you're coming down and you feel vibrating as you come down," Henry added.

City building inspectors along with property management here at the Crowne Plaza are working to figure out how this happened. Neither will say who's responsible for maintaining and ensuring the stairwell is up to code.

NBC12 make numerous attempts to get a comment from the Crowne Plaza and was told no one had time to talk about the incident. The parking deck is closed and will remain so until further notice.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.