More than a dozen hurt in deck collapse on Emerald Isle at North Carolina coast

EMERALD ISLE, Carteret County -- Severe injuries are reported following the collapse of a deck at a beach house on Emerald Isle in Carteret County at the North Carolina coast.

It happened sometime around 7 p.m. in the 4300 block of Ocean Drive.

The Emerald Isle Police Department said at least 14 people were hurt. Carteret General Hospital said it's treating 16 patients - three are in critical condition. The rest suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Another person reportedly in critical condition was flown to New Hanover Regional Medical Center and a second to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville - making a total of 18 hurt.

A spokeswoman at a nearby hospital later said 20 people, including a young child, were rushed to that one hospital alone following the Saturday evening incident, indicating the injury total was higher.

Police said due to the number of patients involved, neighboring agencies were called in to assist in transporting and dealing with the victims. Indian Beach, Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores and Western Carteret all sent Fire and EMS units to assist, while Broad and Gales Creek Fire Departments were also dispatched to provided assistance. Morehead City EMS provided a mass casualty bus to treat and transport victims.

Emerald Isle Police Chief Jeffrey Waters said the oceanfront home was packed with beachgoers for the long holiday weekend.

"The family was on the deck preparing to take a family photo when the event occurred," the police statement said.

WCTI-TV reports the vacationers are a family from Virginia.

Fire Chief Bill Walker estimated the deck area to be about 12 feet by 12 feet, and it gave way from about 10 to 12 feet above the ground.

"It was a one-story house on pilings," he said, adding many victims were found concentrated around the site of the collapse.

"There was a lot of people ... but luckily we pulled together and (the emergency operation) went like clockwork," he said. "Our department was the first department in," he said, adding he ran a "command and action center" to coordinate fire, police and emergency medical personnel called in from several nearby communities.

He said such a deck collapse was uncommon. "It's been about 10 years since we've had one of these so it's not an everyday occurrence," he said.

Authorities said there may have been more people present than the 14 reported injured by police but he didn't count them. He added that injuries ranged from minor cuts and abrasions to more severe injuries that appeared to include broken bones.

Police said in their statement that the cause of the collapse wasn't yet known.

Identities and relations of those injured weren't disclosed. It also wasn't immediately clear if a number of the injured were from one family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
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