Sporting a neck brace, a forehead full of stitches and a bandaged hand, Flavia Ellemberger showed up at the scene of the Shuckers Bar & Grill deck collapse a day after the structure fell into the waters of Biscayne Bay, taking her and her family down with it. “I am glad that I’m alive,” she said. Reinaldo Reyes, who also fell in, recalled what happened. North Bay Village Police Chief Robert Daniels said authorities have “basically ruled out any criminal activity.”
Thirty-three people were injured, two of them seriously, after the deck of a popular waterfront restaurant overlooking Biscayne Bay collapsed in North Bay Village Thursday night, authorities said.
About 100 people were on the deck at Shuckers Bar & Grill at at the time, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Dave Downey said. Many of them were watching the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
Restaurant patrons were sent tumbling into shallow water in Biscayne Bay. One man said the water covered his head. He said his first instinct was to save himself and then others.
On Friday, officials said they believed everyone had been accounted for. They said of the 33 people injured, 24 were transported to the hospital and two of them were in serious condition.
Divers will not be going into the water because it is not a safe structure, a source told NBC 6. The deck was not a floating structure, and it was supported by the seawall, the source said.
Authorities received a 911 call at about 9:45 p.m. about the collapse at Shuckers, a popular local hangout at 1819 79th St. Causeway. Part of the establishment is on land.
“It’s very unfortunate what has happened," North Bay Village Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps said of the collapse.
Anthony Herrera said he and his mother walked into Shuckers just beforehand.
“We walk in, we take a few steps in, my mom’s looking around for a hostess, and you just hear crunch, crunch – curiosity – and then bam, pillar coming down, pillar pillar, and people screaming, people yelling, pieces of wood hitting the water," Herrera recounted. "Before I could really see anything, like I said, my mom grabbed me, and we ran back home, because we live right there down the street.”
Downey said 24 victims were transported from the scene, with two of them seriously injured. About 50 units from various agencies were tending to the victims, he said.
Witnesses and hotel guests said it became a chaotic scene after the deck came crashing down.
"Suddenly there was a sound. It was a loud crash and it all came down. Everyone went down like the Titanic, and I think the lights went out because it got dark and I couldn't get my foot out until they help me and lifted the deck to get my foot out," said Rebecca Diaz, who was one of those injured. Diaz was transported to a local hospital with a sprained ankle.
"We heard a loud boom, a loud noise, we didn't know what it was and when we turned around, we were probably about 10 feet from it and when we looked it was part of the deck just caved in," Marie Torres said. "There was a huge splash, there was people in the water, everything, tables, planters from the plants were in the water."
"We were up on the fifth floor and just heard a crash, like something collided or like a thunderstorm, and we're like, so I grabbed my kid, he's 18, I'm like 'hey, put your shoes on, let's go,'" witness Eric Williams said. "They were injured, there were leg injuries there were body injuries people just shocked and awed, a lot of young people were just like hey, they were there for the Heat game, I'm sure everyone's kind of looking around, we were on our way down to dinner, and we just held up for a minute. They were ok but they were very visibly shaken."
Williams said he jumped in to help get people out of the debris.
"We just saw a deck collapse, we didn't know how deep it was or what-have-you, but it was pretty amazing once you saw other people in the water," Williams said. "We just started throwing chairs and stuff, because we figured if someone was sitting it could have slid because the deck fell into the hotel."
Divers from several agencies, including Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Police, responded to the scene. Two rescue crews from Coast Guard Station Miami also responded to assist fire rescue and police crews.
Witnesses said many people were watching the Miami Heat game at the bar.
Before Heat star Dwyane Wade answered his first question at a postgame news conference in San Antonio, he spoke about what had happened back home.
“I want to share our concerns as an organization and our gratitude to our fans back in Miami for their support,” he said, expressing concern for everybody that was injured at Shuckers.
Heat owner Mickey Arison also expressed concern over Twitter.
"Awful news about deck collapse @ Shuckers. Wishing anyone injured a speedy recovery," he tweeted.
Officials said they'll investigate what caused the deck to collapse.
"It's unknown what failed that led to the collapse but obviously something structurally gave out," Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Jose Herrera said. "The reason for that is what the investigation is all about, to find the root cause of why the collapse actually happened."
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