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3 People Injured After Balcony Collapse In Denton

By Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.COM
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 3 People Injured After Balcony Collapse In Denton

Three men were injured when this balcony collapsed at The Grove apartments in Denton on September 3, 2011. (Credit: Trevor Armel)

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – One of the three men standing on a balcony that collapsed at The Grove Apartments in the 700 block of Fort Worth Drive is in serious condition Saturday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Tony Garcia, Grant Draper and Garrett Draper  were airlifted to Harris Methodist Hospital early Saturday morning after falling from the third floor apartment into the parking lot below. They had stepped out onto the slim balcony to smoke a cigarette at about 3 a.m. when it collapsed, a police spokesman said.

Garcia and Grant Draper are in fair condition while Garrett Draper was upgraded to serious condition Saturday night, Harris Methodist spokeswoman Reace Smith said. Smith did not know how old the men were and did not have any further information about their injuries.

The North Texas Daily reported Saturday afternoon that all three of the men were then stable at Harris Methodist with non-life threatening injuries.

“We have been trying to contact the management, but they’re not telling us anything that happened last night and they’re not letting anyone talk about it,” said Rebecca Barber, 19, a resident of the complex.

The Grove opened in August and is targeted toward college students. Its website touts “fully loaded college living” and features video testimonials from college-aged residents, one of whom says she can “roll out of bed and go straight to class in 10 minutes.”

A manager said the balcony areas of the units are only there for decoration.

 3 People Injured After Balcony Collapse In Denton

A balcony at an apartment facing Fort Worth Drive at The Grove in Denton. (Credit: Trevor Armel)

“It’s important to note that the balcony involved in this morning’s incident was a non-weight bearing structure,” said Christine Vogiatzis, general manager at The Grove. “It was a decorative piece that was originally installed to add to the building’s visual aesthetics.”

Vogiatzis declined to comment about whether this information was included in the lease or if residents are explicitly informed not to stand on the balconies.

A spokesman for the Grove’s North Carolina-based parent company Campus Crest wrote in an email that the Juliet balcony in question was “not designed to support the weight of three full grown adults.”

“It’s six inches deep and serves as a barrier so residents can open their door to get fresh air,” wrote spokesman Jason Chudoba. “The event that took place this morning was an unfortunate accident and we’re glad the individuals’ injuries are non-life-threatening.”

The unit in question does have a door installed in front of the balcony area.

“I did talk to somebody who was there when they fell and they said somebody was trapped under the bar from the railing,” Barber said. “The reason I don’t buy the decorative thing is that there’s a door that leads out onto the balcony. Those are actually working doors.”

Barber said the apartments facing Fort Worth Drive are the only units with the balconies. Her apartment does not have a balcony, she added.

Construction on The Grove started early this year, and Barber said the first day residents could move in was August 20, six days before classes began. Barber said “none of the amenities were ready” when she moved in.

“When I moved in, there was no hot water … my front door wasn’t aligned with the door frame, you could see sunlight coming in,” she said. “There are dings and dints and scratches, my dish washer wasn’t installed properly, my ice maker wasn’t set up.”

Vogiatzis would not comment past her statement about the balcony being purely aesthetic.

The Grove’s Facebook page was also taken down Saturday afternoon. Chudoba did not address whether that was related to the balcony collapse.

grove1 3 People Injured After Balcony Collapse In Denton

The Grove Denton's Facebook page was deleted the day after a balcony collapsed on its property, injuring three. Click to enlarge. (Credit: Samra Bufkins, Mike Mezeul II)

“I talked to residents who had no idea what happened,” Barber said. “They didn’t believe me that it actually had happened, because it’s being kept so down-low.”

grove2 3 People Injured After Balcony Collapse In Denton

The Grove Denton's Facebook page was deleted the day after a balcony collapsed on its property, injuring three. Click to enlarge. (Credit: Samra Bufkins, Mike Mezeul II)

According to the Campus Crest website, the Grove has 584 beds and is one of 10 properties the company owns in Texas. A city of Denton spokesman was not immediately available Saturday for comment.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the injured individuals and their families. The safety and well being of our residents and guests that visit our properties is our top priority and concern,” Chudoba wrote in the email. “We wish the injured individuals a quick recovery.”

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