Victims speak out after Sunday's deck collapse


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 30 at 6:01 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Four people were injured Sunday when a deck at a Middletown apartment complex collapsed, and investigators say it could have been a lot worse.

As the victims begin to speak out, WHAS11'S  Claudia Coffey learned that there are new concerns that other balconies in the complex may have the same problems.

Maria Clay knows how lucky she is when she looks down at what's left of her family member's second floor balcony.

"I'm terrified actually," said Clay.  "I am thinking I am gonna fall. I'm scared to be too close to the deck."

On Sunday night, Clay had just returned from dinner with her family when they decided to move outside to the balcony at the Heritage Hill Apartments in Middletown. First a friend went to the downstairs patio to get ice,  within minutes of stepping out onto this balcony, she knew there was trouble.

"Never in  a million years did I think this was gonna happen . I wouldn't have even had my mom come and stand here even if I thought it was loose," says Clay.

Four people were on the deck for less than five minutes when suddenly they heard a large cracking sound and that's when the entire deck collapsed.

"I felt it falling and I couldn't react quick enough," said Clay.   "So I grabbed onto this ledge and was holding on right here and calling for help. Call 9-11. But before they could even help me, I done fell."

Three people tumbled with the deck to the ground. Maria fell on top of another person. After that, it was chaos.

"We were going crazy. We were screaming and crying . I saw my mom's ankle out of whack . I was just making sure everybody was OK. Making sure there were no deaths. We didn't know if someone was underneath there, my dog, we didn't know anything," says Clay.

A building inspector looked at the balcony Monday morning and determined it was improperly attached. The inspector and Middletown Fire Department warned residents in five other buildings that there could be problems with their balconies as well. More than 20 units received notices not to go onto their balconies until management inspects it and possibly repairs it.

Maria is worried it could have been much worse.

"It's a blessing. It's a blessing."

One elderly woman is still in the hospital after the collapse Sunday night.  She suffered a broken ankle and will undergo a surgery.  Three others were treated and released.

Heritage Hill and their parent company Underhill Properties declined an interview on this story.