Reporting Bill Hudson
CHAMPLIN, Minn. (WCCO) – Felix Neba was having a deck party for his younger brother around 8:30 p.m. Sunday. While he was standing on the stairway, the Champlin homeowner suddenly heard a loud crack.
“I was the one on the steps,” Neba said.
He watched in disbelief as the structure collapsed, carrying six adults and a baby tumbling to the ground. Four of his friends and family members were injured and required treatment at Mercy Hospital.
“There was a lot of commotion,” Neba said. “People were crying, some were fear as being dead. It was very emotional.”
The split-level house on Monticello Lane was built in 1986. Felix bought it in 2005 and was unaware that the rear deck was constructed without the required city building permit.
Had a permit been pulled, the deck never would have passed inspection. The wooden structure was poorly attached to particle board siding, without a 2-by-10 pressure-treated ledger, and with inadequately sized nails.
“I didn’t even know that. I didn’t even know what was behind there,” Neba said. “Is that all that was holding the deck?”
Jerry Hart is Champlin’s building official. He says it’s a good idea for homeowners to make sure their decks are securely anchored to a ledger board.
“The permits serve their purpose. We want to make sure everybody’s safe and there’s construction policies and you need to follow them,” Hart said.
The message in the neighborhood was loud and clear. WCCO spotted one New Brighton homeowner working on their deck Monday, using half-inch lag bolts to attach his ledger board that won’t pull out even under the weight of an elephant.
“It’s unfortunate, but again, had the proper procedures been followed, this accident wouldn’t have happened,” Hart said.