Cause of Terrace Collapse Probed

Two days after a terrace full of people collapsed into a wine cellar at the Lonz Winery, Middle Bass Island, nearly 30 of the 75 injured remained hospitalized.

One man died when the concrete terrace buckled and dropped 20 feet.

Ottawa County Sheriff Craig Emahiser said engineers think the collapse had nothing to do with the number of people on the terrace, which was located near the heart of Lake Erie’s tourist region.

“The engineer advised us that it looked to him to be a structural failure,” Emahiser said.

Engineers and investigators returned to the winery today to try to determine why the terrace collapsed while approximately 100 people were on it listening to music.

The cause is still unknown, but investigators said they hope to have a final answer soon. In the meantime, the winery will remain closed.

Some Heard Rumbling Butch Essex was among the people at the winery when the terrace fell.

“It seemed a little shaky earlier, and you could feel the vibrations,” he said.

Some say they heard rumbling. Others recalled they had no warning.

“I heard some rumbling, kind of like thunder. The next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground,” said Mike Bowman of Valparaiso, Ind.

Police kept boat operators 300 feet from the island as tourists tried to survey the damage to the winery’s century-old main building, a fortress-like mansion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The collapse left a 16- to 18-foot-wide hole in the floor of the terrace.

1964 Construction Date The sheriff said the terrace was built in 1964, and he wasn’t sure when it was last inspected.

There were a few thousand people at the winery Saturday, but only 100 were on the 25-by-20-foot terrace, said Put-in-Bay Police Chief Jim Lang.

George Prusock, 25, of Mayfield Heights, was attending a bachelor party at the winery.

“It was our buddy’s last hurrah before he got married,” Prusock said. “The next thing you know, the floor collapsed and he’s under the pop machine. The floor just dropped. Nobody had any time to react.”

Most people were drinking wine coolers and singing along with a piano player on a nearby stage. “Nobody was dancing in that area, the floor just gave out,” Fire Chief Mark Wilhelm said.

The dead man was identified as Mark Reighard, 29, of Columbus, said Mike Drusbacky of the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency.

ABCNEWS Radio's Liz Cho and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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