Four hurt when deck collapses

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Doraville couple and two teenage children were injured Wednesday morning when a two-story deck they were standing on collapsed at a house in Lawrenceville.

The couple and their three children, ages 13, 14 and 16, were inspecting the two-story wood frame house on Fieldstream Way and considering purchasing it. The home, built 28 years ago, had been foreclosed upon by a bank and was put up for sale "as is," according to the listing agent Mike Seger.

The mother, father, 13-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son were standing on the upper deck shortly before noon when it gave way beneath them, witnesses said. The four family members plummeted 12 to 15 feet to the ground below.

The mother and father were pinned under the heavy boards, but the two teenagers crawled out before firefighters arrived, said Lt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

The 15-year-old son, Abaz Beganoric, said he was the only person still inside the house when the deck collapsed.

"It happened really quickly," Beganoric said. "They didn't even have time to get off the thing. It just collapsed and my parents and my brother and my sister were under there."

Firefighters did not divulge the names of the victims due to federal patient privacy laws, and Beganoric declined to identify his other family members.

Beganoric said he ran around the outside of the house and crawled underneath the porch on his hands and knees, attempting to hold up the heavy boards with his back.

"I got underneath there and I lifted it up, but there was nobody to pull my parents out, so I was holding it like that for a couple of minutes," Beganoric said.

Then several next-door neighbors, 28-year-old John Wadford and his sister's boyfriend, 24-year-old Ricky Miller, came rushing over to help. They slid a portion of the collapsed deck off the 16-year-old boy, Wadford said.

Firefighters who arrived a short time later extricated the mother and father. All but one of the children were taken to Gwinnett Medical Center. The mother and 16-year-old were suffering from back pain and possible back injuries, the father's upper leg was hurt. The 13-year-old daughter was at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston with an injured ankle, Beganoric said.

Seger said he had no prior knowledge of any structural problems with the deck.

"I've been on that deck. We saw no signs of rotting," Seger said. "We look for safety issues, but we don't do inspections. It's sold 'as is' as a foreclosure, but if we thought there was any kind of issues, we would have fixed it."