Report: Collapsed decks that hurt 32 Trinity students were corro - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Report: Collapsed decks that hurt 32 Trinity students were corroded

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

An engineering company said two decks that collapsed and injured nearly three dozen Trinity College students were structurally deficient and had construction flaws.

Cirrus Structural Engineering was hired by the Hartford school following the incident, which happened in early September.

It released its findings during a teleconference Thursday afternoon.

It found that the two elevated decks were structurally deficient relative to "code requirements, engineering principals and general best practice."

"The nails and the adjacent wood ledger member that supported the southeast corner of the second floor appeared original 1925 construction and were very corroded," said Elizabeth Ackley, of Cirrus Structural Engineering.

The company also said "the failure of the rear elevated decks at 1713-1715 Broad St. was primarily caused by construction flaws."

“I express my sincere apologies that our students had to experience such a traumatic event and am grateful that all who were injured are back on campus," said Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Trinity College president. "These students, their families, and all members of our community have my commitment to have all of Trinity’s off-campus buildings regularly inspected so that something like this does not occur again.” 

On Sept. 10 around 11:15 p.m., two decks gave way at an off campus fraternity party. The home is on Broad Street, but is owned by the college.

Thirty-two students were hurt.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing cracking sounds just before the deck fell.

Some people were trapped under piles of wood.

There were no serious injuries.

Eyewitness News learned shortly afterward that the home was last inspected in 2006.

The City of Hartford is not required to inspect two-family homes unless there is an active complaint. At the time, there were no complaints.

The building is managed by an outside firm.

Trinity said it hired a structural engineering company to investigate what led to the collapse.

It found the following:

  • Construction defects of the rear elevated decks included a lack of vertical load support, the use of improper fasteners and failure to use protective flashing.
  • The rear decks were reconstructed sometime between 1990 and 2003, although exact dates could not be determined. There is no record of the company responsible for the construction.
  • Failure to reconstruct the decks properly resulted in corrosion - the wooden beams, ledgers and nails, which led to the gradual weakening of the deck, culminated with the decks being unable to support the weight placed upon them.

“For reasons unclear to us, no inspection was done at the time the 1713-1715 Broad St. building was purchased by the College in 2011,” said Dan Hitchell, vice president of finance and operations. “We are now inspecting all off-campus properties and will enact new procedures to ensure that all buildings that the College owns are safe.” 

The college said all 32 students hurt in the collapse have returned to campus and classes.

Five students who lived on the property have been relocated to on-campus housing.

"Thankfully all who were injured are back on campus and attending classes. However, I know many are still recovering from injury and are still undergoing treatment," said Trinity student Angel Torres.

The college owns 35 off-campus houses.

Eyewitness News will have more on this story starting at 5 p.m.

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