Overcrowded deck collapses during Germantown birthday celebration

An overcrowded deck collapsed during a birthday celebration in Germantown, Maryland on Saturday evening, sending over 100 guests tumbling — and miraculously, there were no serious injuries.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer said over 100 people suffered minor injuries from a sudden deck collapse on the 19300 block of Liberty Heights Lane around 9:30 p.m.

None of the injuries were evaluated as serious, and the vast majority turned down further treatment at a hospital. Only one person was ultimately transported, with injuries not considered life threatening.

Photos tweeted by Piringer showed an elevated wooden deck leaning against a townhouse:

Piringer initially reported a chaotic scene with “walking wounded” and a large crowd gathering soon after the collapse occurred.

Resources were deployed to deal with mass casualties, and up to 70 Montgomery County first responders helped triage injured patients.

The adjacent building was evacuated. A technical rescue team was called to the scene, but no guests were found entrapped in the collapsed deck.

“It appears as though the deck came apart from the house, it looked like it was rotted, probably from some water damage, but that remains to be seen,” Piringer said in a Periscope livestream.

“The deck had a catastrophic failure, probably because of too much weight and too many people.”

Piringer urged residents to check decks for ineffective connections and rotten wood, citing a similar incident in Germantown on May 25 where a deck also separated from a home and injured several people.

Montgomery County Fire said more than 33,000 people are injured each year due to the failure or collapse of a deck, porch, railing or staircase.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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