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One Killed, 7 Hurt in Deck Collapse

deckcollapse5UNIVERSITY PLACE – A second-story house deck collapsed during a family party in University Place for a Navy recruit Thursday night, killing the teenager’s grandfather and injuring seven others, authorities said.

As many as 16 people were on the deck Thursday deck at the home of Paul B. and Nancy Jackson, attending a send-off for their 18-year-old son, Paul “P.J.” E. Jackson, who just joined the Navy, said Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.

But around 7:30 p.m., the deck began to rock, and then it, “pancaked onto the concrete patio below,” Fire Battalion Chief Mitch Sagers said.

The Pierce County medical examiner confirmed Friday that an 84-year-old man had died after being taken to a hospital. He was identified as the guest of honor’s grandfather, Frank Jackson.

The young man’s father, who is on the board of directors with Pierce County Crime Stoppers and is also the station manager at Tacoma’s KBTC-TV, also was injured.

The cause of the collapse was under investigation. Pierce County sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer said the deck, a platform of about 10 feet by 40 feet that was nailed to the side of the house and supported by posts, may not have been properly secured by the contractor who installed it in 1995.

“We just felt a shift and then what seemed like slow motion,” said the recruit’s mother, Nancy Jackson. “It just rocked right on down.”

Family members were eating the early Thanksgiving dinner that P.J. requested, since he is to report to Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois Tuesday.

His sister, Emily, 23, was in the kitchen, the only one at the home not on the deck when it collapsed.

“I saw everyone’s faces get scared, and they were all grabbing for something that wasn’t there,” she said.

For police, it reminded them of a similar deck collapse in 2001 that killed a student at Pacific Lutheran University.

“At this point the scary part is this looks a lot like the incident we had a PLU (three years ago) when the deck came off the house and the deck was not secured to the house very well at all,” said Pierce County Sheriff detective Ed Troyer.

In Thursday’s case, “there were just some nails holding it there when it should have been bolted to the house,” Troyer added. “The homeowner had a contractor do the work, it wasn’t a homeowner job, this is a nice deck that shouldn’t have been built the way it was. It came off the wall because it was not secured to the house.”

The seven other people also were hospitalized with injuries that included broken bones.

No one was standing under the deck when it gave way.

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