ENGINEERS INVESTIGATING the collapse of a concrete terrace in Ohio in which one person died and 75 were injured now suspect a steel supporting beam failed.
Saturday's tragedy took place at the historic Lonz Winery on an island at the south western end of Lake Erie. Around 100 tourists were drinking and listening to a band on the terrace when a large hole opened beneath them. The victims fell 6m into an old wine cellar. A 29 year old man was killed instantly and 19 of those injured were still in hospital as NCE went to press.
Early reports indicated the terrace, measuring around 7m by 8m, was built on to the 100 year old main building around 30 years ago. It consists of a 100mm thick concrete slab supported by steel beams.
Eyewitnesses said that although the terrace was frequently used for dancing, at the moment of collapse those present were seated at picnic tables, drinking and singing along with a piano player. The local police department said the terrace was not overcrowded, despite the presence of some 2,000 tourists in the winery.
Middle Bass Island is a popular tourist spot. Although wine has not been produced there for many years, the winery and its 50ha estate attracts many visitors. It is currently being acquired by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for conversion into a state park, but it appears that no structural survey of the main building has been carried out for many years.