Three men were taken to hospital early Saturday morning after they fell about nine metres from a balcony in the southwest Calgary community of Bankview.
Emergency crews were called to a fourplex in the 1800 block of 23 Avenue S.W. at around 3:15 a.m. for reports of three men who had fallen from the top unit after leaning against a balcony railing. Afterwards, EMS said one man was in life-threatening condition while two others were in stable, non-life-threatening condition.
“I came outside and there were people on the ground. They were screaming and fighting and they were all partying up there,” said Sheldon Rolfe, who lives downstairs and said he was woken up by the commotion. “And then ‘crash,’ people were on the ground.
“One guy was unconscious when he left for sure. They weren’t looking too good because that’s a pretty gnarly fall to take,” Rolfe said.
Detectives with the Calgary Police Service’s Generalized Investigations Sections are working with City of Calgary building inspectors to determine what may have happened prior to the incident as well as to determine why the railing gave way.
Calgary home inspector Peter Stelmaschuk with PC Home Inspections said it’s important to have your balcony inspected when you buy a home. He has seen problems where the railings were only nailed in and not fastened properly with the right bolts.
Stelmaschuk also says rot can happen when “flashing” isn’t installed.
“Most of the time when I see decks that are inspected, they are nailed only. The requirements are they should have lag bolts every two feet staggered, two inch lag bolts and they should have ledger flashing to prevent water from getting in behind,” Stelmashuk said. “They should have galvanized nails, actual hanger nails not screws or common nails that could rust. These will fail over time.”
He also said railings must be able to withstand a minimum of 200 pounds of pressure.
Under the City of Calgary’s Community Standards bylaw, all balconies, decks fences and porches must be kept in “good faith.” That means they have to be free from rot, significant damage or missing parts.