8 hurt in Neptune Beach balcony collapse

Witness says 15 to 20 people on balcony before it collapsed

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. - The second-story balcony of a single-family home in Neptune Beach collapsed Thursday afternoon, and authorities said four people were transported by rescue to UF Health at Jacksonville and four more taken were to other hospitals in private cars.

The collapse occurred about 2:30 p.m. at a home at First and Margaret Streets.

Police were told by witnesses that between 20 and 30 people were on the balcony before it collapsed. Witnesses said there was a loud creaking sound, and then it gave way.

"Heard it cracking, turned around, the balcony collapsed," Mitchell Whichard said.

IMAGES: Second-floor balcony collapses

"I just started sitting there, praying for them, hoping they would be OK," said neighbor Marcella Cavallaro.

Of the four transported to UF Health, three are women and one is a man and they were reported to be in good to stable condition.  There was no word on the conditions of the others taken from the scene.

Rescue personnel say there's a possibility that there possibility others were injured and left before authorities arrives.

A tenant of the house told Channel 4 he was in his room on the third floor when the balcony collapsed. 

"When I got downstairs, it look like a war zone," said Chuck Blackwell.

Blackwell said his roommate was among those injured in the collapse, suffering a broken hip.

"We're trying to get hold of the building inspector now, for him to come out here and look it over and get his expert opinion on exactly what happened," said Neptune Beach Police Chief David Sembach.

The landlord of the rental home, Ernest Russell, was notified of the collapse.

Blackwell said he and his roommates were worried about the condition of the deck and told Russell, but nothing was done about it.

The owner of the home across the street said this incident has him thinking about having his deck inspected.

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