5 remain hospitalized after deck collapse at North Carolina coast

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Twenty-four people were injured with five still hospitalized after Saturday's deck collapse at a beach house in Emerald Isle.

It's the second major collapse in two years on the North Carolina coast.

Once again, officials are blaming corroded nails which were worn down by years of salt, sand and fierce storms.

A family had gathered for a photo on the ocean deck of the home when it came crashing to the ground. The victims range in age from five to 94.

It was nearly an identical scene in Ocean Isle in July 2013 when 21 people were injured when the deck they were on gave way.

Both collapses were blamed on deteriorating nails battered by Mother Nature.

"Essentially, we're in a harsh natural environment here and those fasteners just deteriorated over time, and unfortunately it collapsed," said Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush.

The home in Emerald Isle was built in 1986 and built to code. However, town officials said local inspectors are not required to inspect the decks -- only investigate complaints. There are no complaints on record for the house.

Five years ago, the ABC11 I-Team investigated dangerous decks. We interviewed Bryant Bass, a home builder in New Hanover County.

"Salt air just ruins everything," said Bass. "Everything down here is constantly maintained. It has to be maintained yearly."

Bass said when you arrive at the beach you need to do your own inspection.

"If you don't see very many bolts, holding the structure to the house, then I would ask questions," said Bass. "It's probably not going to support a proper amount of weight."

Experts warn that the size and price of the home does not matter. Any of them could have issues.

The Emerald Isle home was a $1 million house. The one on Ocean Isle was a $2 million home.

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