Dozens Injured in Harrisonburg Building Collapse

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Harrisonburg Police say say the floor of a third floor apartment has collapsed onto the second floor, and the second floor collapsed onto the first floor at the Hunters Ridge Apartment Complex on Port Republic Road.

Rockingham Memorial Hospital says two people were flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center with serious injuries. Nearly 30 other students were treated at Rockingham Memorial Hospital for cuts, scrapes and bruises.

Officers on the scene say several people were unconscious after the collapse.

A witness on the third floor before the collapse says a certain song came on and a group of people inside the apartment complex were jumping before the floor caved in.

"Next thing you know, you hear a lot of yelling and screaming and crying and we stepped outside and went into one of the rooms and apparently the floors had collapsed. And we saw people running out holding people in their arms, and it was just a chaotic scene," says Eric Green, who lives in the apartment building.

Harrisonburg Fire Chief Larry Shifflett says they are looking into how many people were in the apartment when the building collapsed.

"We have no idea how many people were in that apartment," says Shifflett. "One of the young ladies that we talked to says it was packed tight enough in there that you couldn't really dance."

Harrisonburg Building Official Wayne Lilly was at the complex Saturday morning, and says, at first glance, he doesn't think the issue was poor construction but overloading.

"It looks like the trusses failed on the upper third floor and they just collapsed on the second floor and that failed, and they ended up on the lower level, which is a concrete floor," says Lilly.

On Monday, an engineer or architect will evaluate the collapse.

Both officials say they receive calls about floors giving way somewhat each year, but they never actually fall in.

"We've always had the fear that this was going to happen based on the other scenarios that we respond to three or four times a year, but this is the first time that it actually has," says Shifflett.

Shifflett says he's surprised the injuries weren't more serious.

"If you stood at the ground floor level and looked at the destruction of that building and looked up at where the third floor was, you have to wonder why there were at least no serious injuries or why somebody just wasn't plain out killed in this collapse," says Shifflett.

All the other apartments in the building have been evacuated until inspectors can go over the structure Monday. However the two third floor apartments on the opposite side of the building have been approved for occupancy as of Saturday afternoon.

Ambulances from several agencies in the Shenandoah Valley responded to the collapse.