PaintSquare.com
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

Advertisement

PaintSquare


Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


D.A. Taking on Fatal Balcony Failure

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More items for Program/Project Management
More items from North America

Comment | More

BERKELEY, CA--Severe dry rot doomed a balcony that ripped loose from an apartment building and sent six college students plunging to their deaths, city building inspectors say.

In a report released June 23, one week after the deadly collapse, the Berkeley Building and Safety Division said the deck’s severed joist ends looked “extensively rotted” where the structure tore off the exterior wall of the Library Gardens apartment building.

The report stopped short of blaming the rotted beams for the collapse.

Balcony
Screenshot via KXTV

The fifth-floor balcony on the 176-unit Library Gardens apartment building snapped shortly after midnight June 16 during a birthday party, sending 13 students plunging to the street below. Six were killed; seven were injured.

Meanwhile, the District Attorney’s office says it will “begin looking into the matter,” reports relate.

The complex was less than 10 years old.

Six Killed

The fifth-floor balcony on the 176-unit Library Gardens apartment building snapped shortly after midnight June 16 during a birthday party, sending 13 people plunging to the street below.

Six were killed. Five were from Ireland, and the sixth had Irish-American citizenship, officials said. They have been identified as Olivia Burke, 21; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Niccolai (Nick) Schuster, 21; Lorcan Miller, 21; Eimear Walsh, 21; and Ashely Donohoe, 22. Autopsies confirmed the students died of blunt injuries.

Seven others were hospitalized with broken bones and “life-altering injuries,” news outlets reported. Many of the victims had been working in the San Francisco Bay area on internships. They attended University College Dublin or the Dublin Institute of Technology.

City Investigation Concludes

In its 10-page report, officials said the analysis was based on direct observations of the balcony assembly following the collapse. A forensic examination and lab tests were not included in the scope of the review.

The officials indicated that the cantilevered balcony’s joist beams "had completely sheared off approximately 16-20 inches from the exterior building face," according to the report.

The outer beams of the balcony sustained “significant rot and decay,” but inner joists appeared in better shape, the report said.

No Formal Cause

The analysis suggests moisture could have led to the decay of the balcony support and its ultimate collapse. However, the city’s planning director Eric Angstadt said that city inspectors were not responsible for determining why the collapse occurred and that no further analysis was planned.

“We are not making any sort of formal causal determination,” Angstadt told members of the media.

“We don’t know and we aren’t going to know or determine how moisture got into the assembly.”

The staff did, however, confirm that the building’s approved plans complied with California Building codes in effect at the time of occupancy in 2007.

Berkeley
Introvert / CC BY-SA 2.5 / Wikimedia Commons

City inspectors recommended new and modified regulations to prevent another similar tragedy.

The balcony directly below the one that collapsed was removed after the incident when inspectors deemed it structurally unsafe.

Code Changes Urged

Based on the observations, the city staff recommends that the City Council adopt new and modified regulations to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

The changes would make “new balconies and other sealed areas exposed to weather subject to stricter requirements on materials, inspection and ventilation,” city officials said.

In addition, the proposed regulations would institute regular maintenance inspections for all such spaces for future buildings. The new inspection requirements would also apply to existing buildings and would require inspections of all such spaces within six months of the passage of the proposed ordinances.

Subsequently, those units would be required to have maintenance inspections by qualified inspectors once every five years, officials report.

Probe Shifts to D.A.

The probe into the collapse is not over. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will take the lead moving forward.

Nancy E. O'Malley
Official Photo

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley's office is in charge of the collapse investigation.

“In light of Berkeley’s statement Tuesday afternoon that it had concluded its investigation, this office will now be the lead agency in this investigation,” District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick told the Mercury News Wednesday.

“We continue to work with the city of Berkeley, and they with us, as we go forward.”

The Police Department is also cooperating with the case, asking to retain the removed balcony debris, the news outlet reported.

Contractor Reviewing Report

The Library Gardens building was constructed in 2007 by Segue Construction, of Pleasanton, CA.

A Segue Construction spokesman told media outlets that the company was reviewing the findings of the city’s report.

Since the collapse, reports have emerged that the builder has been entangled in multiple lawsuits involving balconies and/or water intrusion on other properties.

Reports say the company has paid more than $6.5 million to settle two such cases.

   

Tagged categories: Building envelope; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Fatalities; Health and safety; Moisture management; Multifamily; Residential Construction; Waterproofing; Wood

Comment from Cian Davis, (6/30/2015, 8:19 AM)

Many of these kids were friends of my cousin. This is such a tragedy. So sorry for the victims families....very sad.


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Advertisements
 
 

 
Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corp.
 
Hurricane Vacuums
& Dust Collectors
 
Vacuum and dust collector hose, filters and related accessories.
IndustrialVacuum.com
 

 
SAFE Systems, Inc.
 
Portable Blast &
Recovery Equipment
 
Trailer or skid mounted blast and recovery equipment. Systems designed for maximum versatility, environmental compliance
and overall cost savings.
Call 1-800-634-7278
 

 
Tarps manufacturing, Inc.
 
QUALITY MADE IN AMERICA —Available near you!
 
CLICK to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Tarps Manufacturing makes the highest-quality tarps right here in the USA — available nationwide.
 

 
Novatek Corporation
 
Dustless Coatings Removal
 
Novatek Corporation, Dustless Coatings Removal Strip, clean and profile all dust free! Comply with new lead standards. Contact today: (866) 563-7800 www.Novatekco.com
 

 
Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
 
Blastox® - One Step Lead Abatement
 
Sandblast additive delivered to jobsite pre-blended to eliminate hazardous abrasive wastes. Why mix, meter or apply at the job-site? Blast with ease and
Let your painters paint!
1(800)-252-7869
 

 
Sky Climber, LLC
 
Solutions in Suspended Access
 
Safely reach workspaces regardless of size or purpose with our full line of Hoists, modular Platforms, and versatile Workcages.
 

 
North Dakota State University
 
Coatings Science Short Course – Registration Open
 
North Dakota State University, June 10 – 15, 2018. The course is designed for all levels of scientists and technologists working in the field of coating.
 

 
BASF
 
New resins from BASF will have metals loving water!
 
Excellent corrosion resistance, low VOC, high gloss, thin films www.basf.us/industrialcoatings dpsolutions@basf.com 800-231-7868
 

 
ABKaelin, LLC
 
ABKAELIN EH&S SERVICES
 
Programs/Training/Monitoring for Silica, Lead, Noise, Beryllium, Hexavalent Chromium, Cadmium, Hazardous Waste*PM10 & TSP-Lead Ambient Air Monitoring*SSPC C3/C5
 

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us