Deck Collape Near Campus Injures 21

By Shaina Croom and Leonard Spencer
VCU Insight

RICHMOND, Va.- VCU students injured in a balcony collapse two weeks ago are still recovering. Meanwhile the City of Richmond is trying to make sure people are staying on top of their inspections.

Reports say that about 50 people were partying on the deck at 1305 West Cary Street when it suddenly collapsed on November 7 injuring 21 guests, mostly VCU students.

Vanna Zagorodnaya, a VCU student, said it took her by surprise.

“We were all just hanging out on the balcony, and all of the sudden it just collapsed. I guess there were too many people on it. It just happened.”

Zagorodnaya’s roommate, Kate Purnell, was also present at the party and said when the balcony collapsed, she thought her life was over.

“I thought I was going to die when I was falling through and then when I was like on the ground, I was like I’m okay and then I blacked out.”

Zagorodnaya received a fractured knee and has five stitches in her upper thigh. Purnell fractured two vertebrae in her neck and tore a bunch of ligaments.

After an investigation, Commissioner of Buildings for the Department of Community Development, Art Dahlberg, said there were quite a few reasons for the collapse.

“Well, I think it was a couple of factors—one, the deck wasn’t, uh, the construction of the deck wasn’t built right. Unfortunately, when the deck was built, they didn’t get a building permit when they should have…and thus we would have done inspections to correct that deficiency. Also in part it was an awful lot of people on the deck at the same time,” said Dahlberg.

Dahlberg stresses that it is important property owners keep up maintenance on balconies and also make sure the structures are sturdy.

For tenants with concerns about the safety of their rental property, it is advised that you contact your landlord or call 311 in the City of Richmond to arrange an inspection.

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