Failed balcony railing causes near-fatal injuries
Can we ever take the condition of a building for granted? Do we? The building occupants, to get in and out of their units on second and higher stories, use components like balconies and staircases every day. Do we really know if they are safe? As property managers or board members of community associations, how can you be sure? When was the last time someone took a professional, in depth look at those parts of your buildings?
We know from reading dozens of expert investigations that quite often some of the most insidious problems are hidden from view—for example, weaknesses in structural components that are used every day. This is especially true in older apartment complexes that have been converted to condominiums. Years of neglect by the apartment owners are passed on to the condominium buyers with no warnings or disclosures.
Now we find a similar situation that almost turned to tragedy:
KRON TV News, April 1, 2010
ANTIOCH (BCN) -- Building inspectors found evidence of dry rot at an apartment complex in Antioch where three people fell from a second-floor balcony Thursday morning after a wooden railing gave way, Antioch code enforcement manager Ryan Graham said. As a result, he said, the residents of three units at the complex will have to be temporarily relocated. The fall occurred at about 7:30 a.m. at the Twin Creek Apartments at 1111 James Donlan Blvd. Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Alan Hartford said the victims are two women and a young girl about 8 or 9 years old.
"They were leaning against a railing and the railing gave way," Hartford said. The three fell about 15 feet to the ground below, an area with dirt and bushes, he said. One woman, who may have briefly lost consciousness, appeared to have suffered head, neck and back injuries and was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Hartford said. The second woman and the girl were taken to hospitals by ground ambulance. The victims are all expected to survive, Hartford said. He said the little girl was the least injured.
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