'It was scary': Teens escape serious injury when rotted balcony collapses in Schaumburg
Readily apparent deterioration is considered the cause of a balcony collapse in Schaumburg that sent a group of teens tumbling about 12 feet to the ground as they posed for a birthday party photo early Sunday evening.
Only one person out of about 10 involved required immediate transport to a hospital after the collapse of the second-story deck at a townhouse on the 1000 block of Colony Lake Drive, but others sought treatment later for minor injuries.
One of them, Mia Dudlicek of Hoffman Estates, followed up with another medical appointment Monday for worsening pain in her tailbone.
Mia, 17, said she landed largely on her feet on a patio stoop below when the balcony gave way beneath her Sunday.
"It was scary," she said Monday. "I wasn't entirely aware (what) had happened until today. I think the first hour I was mostly in shock."
Though the exact number of people on the balcony is uncertain, Mia said she never considered that the balcony wouldn't support them. There seemed to be enough room for everyone as they posed for a photo being taken from the ground below, she said.
Mia, who was standing near the front when the deck collapsed, said others reported hearing creaking sounds about 20 seconds beforehand.
The most seriously injured girl was taken to Amita St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates after suffering a dislocated collarbone. She was discharged about 10 p.m., approximately three hours after the collapse was reported to the Schaumburg Fire Department.
"We're just glad that everybody was OK," said Mia's mother, Shonda Dudlicek.
Schaumburg building inspectors are investigating the collapse, but Community Development Director Julie Fitzgerald said photographs were enough to indicate that the balcony had deteriorated beyond its useful life.
"The cause is apparent," she said. "You need to replace rotted balconies."
Homeowners are responsible for such maintenance, Fitzgerald said. Though village officials act on information brought to their attention, they don't do preemptive structural inspections, she said.
Nevertheless, the collapse has led inspectors to examine other balconies in the townhouse complex. Only a small percentage of the units have balconies, and some are clearly newer than the one that collapsed, Fitzgerald said.
The village will not pursue any kind of citation against the townhome's owners, Fitzgerald said. One of the next steps the village will take is to communicate with the homeowners association for the complex, she said.