13 fall in water after Boca Raton dock collapses; 3 hurt

BOCA RATON, FLA. (WSVN) - A dock inside a gated community in Boca Raton collapsed, Tuesday afternoon, causing 13 family members to fall in a lake, injuring three of them, officials said.

7Skyforce HD hovered above the scene of the collapse at the clubhouse of the Boca Bayou Condominium Association, located at 30 Royal Palm Way.

Boca Raton Fire Inspector Bob Lemons said the victims were older adults who were part of an extended family. “They were together in the area for a family reunion, and while they were there, they wanted to get a group picture out on the water,” he said.

Lemons said the victims then stepped on the wooden part of the dock that extends into the water. “They were in the process of stacking everybody up, as far as tall people in the back, short people in the front,” he said.

It was at that moment when the structure suddenly gave way, plunging them into the lake. “It didn’t drop straight down. It dropped at an angle, so it looks more like a ramp right now,” said Lemons. “Some people went directly in the water. Others kind of tumbled down there.”

Courtesy: Boca Raton Fire Rescue

Officials said the water is only about six feet deep by the dock, which is comprised of a wooden deck partly over a concrete platform.

Everyone was able to quickly climb out of the lake. Three of the victims suffered minor bumps and bruises.

Paramedics treated the injured victims for minor injuries at the scene, and two of those victims went to the hospital to be checked out.

There were also some children on the dock at the time of the collapse. They did not fall into the water.

Boca Bayou resident Jaime Aguayo said people are frequently out on the dock. “All the time. They have bingo parties here on Mondays. They have weddings, they have birthday parties,” he said. “They have a lot of things going on here.”

A police officer was later seen taking photographs of the collapsed deck.

“I’ve been on docks since I was a kid, but things happen,” said Aguayo. “Wood rots. It’s a lot of water. I mean, it’s scary.”

But the unexpected tumble into the lake did not stop the party. “They got everybody from around the country, finally got their family reunion together. They’re going to keep going,” said Lemons.

Maintenance workers came to put up barricades along the walkways that extend away from the deck. The barricades have not kept people from coming and taking pictures with their cellphones, however.

City officials plan to come out and check the rest of the docks at the complex to make sure they are structurally sound.

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