At least 22 injured in decks’ collapse in N.J. residential building

Sept. 15 (UPI) — A three-story residential building’s decks collapsed, injuring at least 22 people, including several firefighters and children, in south New Jersey, officials said.

One day later on Sunday, all but three of them were released from hospitals, including three children, NJ.com reported.

At least two large decks on the seven-unit building in Wildwood, N.J., pancaked onto the ground around 6 p.m. Saturday.

“I could hear people over there calling for help,” neighbor June Cheeseman told WPVI-TV.

“I was sitting on the deck up there, and I heard this noise, so I turned and looked and saw the whole thing caving in,” Joann Debito, a resident of the Newport Hotel across the street, told The Press of Atlantic City. “I saw two women running and screaming. It was horrible.”

Personnel attending the New Jersey Firemen’s Association Convention rushed to the scene, just hours after its parade through Wildwood, a resort city on the south New Jersey coast.

Upwards of eight members of the Branchville Fire Department and their family members were injured in the collapse and all but one were released from area hospitals, the Sussex County Fire Chief’s Association said.

Wildwood fire Chief Daniel F. Speigel said rescue efforts were expedited because they first responders were nearby.

“Whoever they were, I wanted to throw a shout out to them for helping us get the victims removed,” Speigel said at a news conference Sunday. “All victims were removed in under an hour and transported ]to the hospital], which is pretty phenomenal.”

Nineteen patients, including three children, were treated and released from Cape May Regional Health System, a spokesperson told WPVI-TV. Twenty-one people initially were treated at the hospital.

In addition, at least one additional person was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City.

The building was originally apartments built in the 1930s and later converted to condos. Lou Catarro, 67, of Wildwood, told NJ.com.