You're about to watch the moment life came crashing down for 2 dozen people. Here's how 8 year old Ainsley Wilt described what happened in a homemade IPhone video moments later.
"Everybody was sitting down and Brittany was about to take the picture and BOOM! It just went down."
The Wave 3 News Troubleshooter Department obtained security camera footage of the deck collapse from victims, who are now suing the deck builder and the Homeowner's Association that ran the clubhouse where it happened.
"Some people called this a freak accident. You know a meteorite hitting your house would be a freak accident. This was going to fall one day."
That day turned out to be December 22nd, 2013. A Christmas party hosted by Lisa Wilt for her extended family. As everyone gathered for a group picture, smiles turned into screams.
"It just gave way."
That's Lisa's dad Jerry slamming into a support beam on his way to the cement, 15 feet below.
"We was in shock. Just saying how could this happen."
He was one of a number of family members taken to hospitals. Lisa's husband Jeremy, a nurse, was at work when the deck collapsed and joined the team of emergency responders. He says the worst injured were standing along the railing.
"The people in the back all fell straight down and the deck fell away from them so they did not get the benefit of landing on the deck first or even the benefit of landing on somebody behind them."
The family says 3 of those people still are not walking. Others were more fortunate. Look at this 13 months old baby who escaped unhurt thanks to her dad who clutched her in his arms as they fell. Watch this man catch a sliding deck bench with one arm to keep it from crushing people below.
A spokesperson with Schuler Homes, the company that built the deck, said that the law shields them from liability because the deck is more than 10 years old. Calls to the President of the Wolf lake Homeowners Association, the other group named in the lawsuit because it's responsible for maintaining the deck, have not been returned.
Jeremy is now spearheading a Grassroots Public Awareness Campaign using the images of what happened to his family in a YouTube video about deck safety.
"Pay attention to the front center of the beam as it gives away first."
Teaching people the warning signs of a collapse. Red flags, the family claims, went unnoticed here.
"I'm just surprised no one died and stuff."
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