A deck behind the popular Shuckers sports bar in North Bay Village collapsed Thursday night, spilling scores of customers watching the Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs game into Biscayne Bay.
Dozens of police and fire-rescue units rushed to the scene after the sudden collapse, which happened about 9:45 p.m., minutes before the game’s halftime.
At least two dozen people were injured, and by 11:20 p.m. 15 people had been transported to various hospitals,. three of them in serious condition, said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Eugene Germain Jr. He said approximately 100 people were on the deck when it fell into the water.
As helicopters circled over the scene, rescuers carried people away on stretchers, one after another. Another fire captain said one person might be missing and that a search was underway.
Chris Volz, 39, said he was sitting at the western end of the bar, about 10 feet from where the deck gave way. “Everybody’s watching the game. It sounded like a freight train, then everyone was gone. The deck went down like a V.” He said it happened in a split second and that no one had a chance to get away.
He said bartenders were diving into the water to help rescue the patrons. Fire trucks pulled to the water’s edge and extended their ladders over the water to help the patrons climb to safety.
Shuckers, at 1819 79th Street Causeway, lost power when the collapse happened, casting victims and rescuers alike into the dark.
Hernan Reyes, 21, and friend Crystal Infante, 23, were eating and watching then game when the deck, about five feet over the water, collapsed. Infante said the water was shallow enough for them to stand, but it was difficult for them to get out because wood, umbrellas, tables, chairs and other debris currounded them.
“There was a crack, and then we were in the water,” Infante said. “There was just a crack, and then we were in the water….It was really hard to get out, and you coudln’t find anyone.”
By 11 p.m., a triage unit had been set up in the parking lot, and victims were still being removed from the water.. Traffic on the 79th Street Causeway was closed off in both directions.
Police and rescue units from North Bay Village, Miami-Dade County, Miami, Miami Beach and El Portal were on the scene within minutes.