Balcony safety the focus after IU off-campus collapse

A temporary wood board covers the spot where a railing failed during a party Saturday night.
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While city inspectors continue to investigate a balcony collapse at Indiana University, they say people standing on them need to be responsible, too.

Nearly a dozen students were hurt and four ended up in the hospital when a crowded deck collapsed near campus Saturday night.

Up to 30 IU students were partying on a second-floor porch Saturday when a railing broke.

"We saw people running and carrying people and stuff. It was chaotic. Had no idea what was happening. Thought there was a fight or something," said a group of male students who were at the party.

People had just tumbled from the porch when the front railing gave way. One woman hurt her head and back and was taken to the hospital.

Men at the house where the accident occurred didn't want to talk about it Tuesday. The city is investigating the collapse.

The city inspector told Eyewitness News it did not appear the railing was damaged before the incident. Instead, they think it broke under the pressure of people sitting and pushing against it.

Online in Indiana and around the country, porch collapses off-campus seem dangerously common.

"Even at frat parties where they have balconies and everything, I just assume it's okay," said IU student Hillary Lang.

Bloomington inspectors check every rental every 3-5 years. They check porches and balconies to make sure they're built to code and aren't falling apart. But landlords and renters have to be responsible, too.

"Our landlord came over to our house after the railing collapsed down the street," said student Brooke Chambers.

Chambers' porch is similar to the second-story porch around the corner.

"She made sure none of us were sitting on the railing and made sure we all knew about it so we wouldn't do anything stupid," she said.

The landlady told Chambers to limit the crowd to 14 people on her porch.

"We don't let any of our guests on the railing, either," she said.

Other students living off 8th Street say their landlord said "stay off the roof, but it's mainly for the protection of the roof from what I can tell."

With no railing around their roof, "we are trying to keep it to a minimum and make sure people are being calm, not roughhousing."

They have had to tell others to cool it.

"Oh yeah, oh yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. People are reckless sometimes," said one of the students.