The NBA finals sent basketball fans out in search of a good place to watch the game on Thursday night, and unfortunately so many people were crowded onto the deck of a bar and grill in Florida that it collapsed beneath their weight, sending everyone into the water and critically injuring three.
At least 24 of the 100 Shucker’s Bar and Grill patrons were injured, authorities said; the deck was about six feet above the surface of Biscayne Bay, and although the water is fairly shallow near the restaurant, the chaos of 100 people being dumped from the deck–and the weight of the deck itself–caused panic.
One patron, Martin Torres, said he thought a boat had hit the deck at first.
“It was shock,” said Torres. “People were yelling. Nobody knew. People came out all wet. They were crying. For a while, nobody knows what was going on.”
Because the noise of the venue–due to the game, which was between Miami Heat and the Spurs–being so great, many people didn’t realize what was happening until it was already done. Officials say there was concern briefly that people might be trapped underwater beneath the debris, but rescuers searched thoroughly and said everyone was accounted for.
“That was a big gathering watching the Miami Heat and Spurs,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman Griselle Marino. “There were a lot of TVs and everybody was in celebration and it was loud. So when it started happening, some people didn’t even realize what was going on.”
Another witness, 39-year old Chris Volz, said it happened so fast no one had time to intervene. “Everybody’s watching the game. It sounded like a freight train, then everyone was gone. The deck went down like a V.”
Shucker’s lost power after the collapse, which made rescue efforts tricky until officials could come in on boats with powerful search lights.
Investigators are looking into why the deck suddenly collapsed.