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Student sues after Deltopia balcony collapse

By Victoria Sanchez, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
Published On: May 01 2013 09:39:15 PM CDT
Updated On: May 02 2013 04:46:10 PM CDT

Injured UCSB student sues after balcony collapse

ISLA VISTA, Calif. -

A student injured in the April 6 balcony collapse during Isla Vista's Deltopia party is suing the property management company.

The attorney for the UCSB student said the accident was preventable because it was aware months before that part of the building was unstable.

"You actually see where the wood tore away from the building," said Robert Clayton, an attorney with Taylor & Ring in Los Angeles.

Clayton inspected what was left of a balcony that fell off the side of a house in Isla Vista.

Doors that once led out to the balcony are now boarded up after an accident at the spring break party.

As many as 18,000 people came to town in April. Streets, houses and balconies were swarmed with college-aged partiers.

But the fun turned into chaos.

"I realized something was on top of me and I was trapped and pinned under it and I hadn't put two and two together at that time and realized the second-story balcony had fallen," said Stephanie Grace.

Grace is a senior at UCSB and recalls a scary story. She was knocked out when the balcony came down but revived as other people lifted up the wreckage.

County fire investigators said 20 people were on the balcony. The pictures show dozens more under it as it fell.

"I definitely think that there were a lot of people at the house but there were lots of people at other houses and the same incident didn't happen over and over again," said Grace.

Her attorney is still looking into whether or not the number of people contributed to the collapse. But his initial investigation revealed property management firm Wolfe and Associates, knew of an issue.

"What we were able to find is that there was a long-standing problem at this property with both wood rot and termite infestation. The owners were aware of that, the owners clearly felt it was easier to collect rent than it was to make repairs," said Clayton.

"That's an extensive amount of wood rot and termite damage. You can just see how the wood has been gnawed to pieces."

As Grace recovers from a fractured pelvis, she is now suing the company for negligence and premises liability.

The owner of Wolfe and Associates said he will not comment at this time and that the lawsuit has to run its course.

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