Franklinton bleacher collapse injures 4

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Franklinton Dixie Youth Baseball officials are looking into all possible options as to how to proceed after a set of concrete bleachers partially collapsed on Saturday at the 13-14-year-old field.

League President Mike Phelps said an approximately 8-foot section of the bleachers at the 13-14-year-old field gave way as part of the Opening Ceremonies.

Four people were slightly injured, according to the Franklinton Police Department. The 9 a.m. game had just begun and was postponed after the collapse.

“The Franklinton Police Department received a 9-1-1 call in reference to a medical emergency at the Dixie Youth Baseball Complex. Officers arrived and discovered where the top set of concrete bleachers had collapsed causing injuries to four people,” FPD Maj. Justin Brown said.

Brown said emergency medical personnel and the Franklinton Fire Department responded to the accident. Charles Williams, along with his wife, Sherry, and two sons were transported to Riverside Medical Center. Initial reports indicated the victims sustained moderate injuries and were released following treatment.

As of press time, Brown said the cause of the collapse was still being investigated.

“It was purely an accident, and we can’t tell the root cause for the collapse,” Phelps said. “I can tell you that as a board, we’re assessing the bleachers and any other areas. It’s hard to believe a 4-inch slab of concrete with two pieces of rebar would fall. It is certainly a horrible thing, and it could have been much worse. As a board, we’re going to have to look at to see if there was any type of structural problem.”

The league has six fields at the complex. Five teams comprise the 13-14-year-old league. There were no games scheduled in the league this week.

Phelps is in his first year as league president.

“This is certainly not a thing I anticipated or budgeted for,” Phelps said. “At worst, it could cost in the neighborhood of $50,000 to replace all the bleachers at all the fields. That is one of the things we’re trying to figure out. Maybe we can shore them up and sturdy them a little bit better. I would like to have stress tests for integrity. This is something that is definitely going to be assessed.”

Phelps said the league is open for suggestions. He said two contractors were scheduled to meet with league officials Tuesday and give their recommendations.

“What it all boils down to is money. We’ve got to make do with what we have, but it has to be safe,” Phelps said. “The $50,000 amount would be bad for the league, so we’re trying to figure out what the best route for the league is. My mind has been like a tornado since this happened trying to figure out what to do.”

As for the injured family, Phelps said his thoughts were with them.

“We’re truly fortunate the injuries were not more severe,” Phelps said. “Kids are always playing with their cars underneath the bleachers, but there were no kids underneath there Saturday. We’re fortunate in that it was not a lot worse.”

Phelps said the entire complex looked as good and as clean as ever for the round-robin tournament. He looked for a positive in the unfortunate events.

“It certainly was a horrible thing. We’re going to get through this and continue to improve the facilities at the park,” Phelps said.