Thursday, June 12, 2014
Thirteen people were injured, one seriously, when an elevated deck at the Sea View Inn on Pawleys Island collapsed the evening of June 6 as guests congregated outside to view a double rainbow over the ocean.
Pawleys Island Police Chief Mike Fanning said Saturday morning, the cause of the deck collapse was under investigation.
He confirmed that 13 people had been transported to area hospitals Friday night, but only two were kept overnight.
One victim was listed in serious condition on Friday evening, but Fanning said that person’s condition had been upgraded Saturday morning.
Owners of the Sea View Inn blamed the collapse on a large number of people on a water-saturated deck.
“It was waterlogged from the recent deluge of rain and simply could not hold the weight,” owners Sassy and Brian Henry said on their Facebook social media page.
The Henrys estimated that there were about 30 people on the deck at the time of the collapse. They also said, “This deck was not in disrepair or in a compromised state.”
The Sea View Inn has a large porch facing the ocean, a deck just below the porch, and a large deck midway between the inn and the beach. Fanning said the structure that collapsed was the deck just below the porch, about 12 feet off the ground.
It was eerily quiet early Saturday morning in the inn. The dining room looked ready for the morning rush of hungry guests, but there were only a few people in the gathering room.
When asked about the accident, one woman who was wrapped in a blanket and resting on a chaise lounge replied, “I am very sore…very, very, sore…but I don’t want to talk about it.”
She referred all questions to the inn manager, who had no comment and requested that no pictures be taken. A man, sitting beside the woman wrapped in a blanket, had a bandaged arm.
He was visibly shaken and did not comment. A little boy, sitting by himself, appeared to be looking out at the ocean and resting comfortably on the sofa.
There were no guests on the beach, but a few onlookers were taking photos of the taped-off beach walk leading from the ocean to the inn.
A neighbor of the inn commented, “I have lived here forever, and I can’t remember ever seeing that many emergency vehicles on this island.”
A dozen ambulances had been dispatched to the scene. Another neighbor, walking his dog, said, “I hear that there were lots of cuts and scrapes and maybe a broken bone or two, but nothing too serious.”
The Sea View Inn’s owners said in their online statement, “Everyone, with the exception of one very dear friend/guest, have been released from the hospital with injuries ranging from cracked ribs and lacerations, to a broken ankle. The one guest that remains hospitalized has a leg injury that will require surgery.”
Walkers, bikers, and tourist passing by the street entrance to the Sea View Inn might not have noticed a difference Saturday morning, but visitors to the beach side saw a different view of the inn.
Brightly colored police tape criss-crossed the entrance of the inn from the beach side, an indication that something was far less than normal at the usually upbeat bed and breakfast.
A few days after the desk collapse, the guests at the inn seemed to be returning to a normal summer routine. With not an empty seat in sight, the dining room was filled with hungry guests on Monday. The smell of fried shrimp filled the air, and the laughter and pleasure of happy guests surrounded the inn.
At mid-morning on Tuesday, the inn was a busy place to be. With breakfast service completed, guests were scurrying around the inn to make their way down to the ocean for a paddle board lesson, setting up their umbrellas for the day, and grabbing books from the library for a leisurely read.
Others were content just sitting and enjoying the quiet breeze coming through the windows from the ocean. “This is not somewhere we come to stay in the summer, this is our home away from home,” a guest said as she sat on the porch enjoying the morning breeze.
Relating that she was one of the guests on the deck when it collapsed Friday evening, she said, “I was on the deck, and I’m still here, and I will continue to keep coming here just as I have always done. My whole family was on that deck, and we love this place, plain and simple.”