2012-03-23 / Top Stories

House Party Horror

Neighbors Not Surprised By Collapse
By Howard Schwach

Tenants from the first floor of the home remove their goods on Monday morning. Tenants from the first floor of the home remove their goods on Monday morning. The collapse of the third floor of a private house in Arverne on St. Patrick’s Day, which left two locals in the hospital, did not surprise neighbors, who had been complaining about the outsized home for years.

Neighbors told The Wave on Sunday that they weren’t shocked when the third floor of the home, at 451 Beach 72 Street, suddenly gave way and turned into a giant slide — sending as many as 100 teens attending a combination 13- year-old’s birthday party and St. Patrick’s Day party, tumbling down.

Miraculously, no one died, and only one person was seriously hurt — the older sister of the birthday boy. Officials say that her injuries are not life-threatening.

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Buildings, which Monday ordered the entire house vacated, said there were 100 teens at the party.

That number was corroborated by some of those who had been at the party, which was held in the uninhabited third floor apartment.

According to the Department of Buildings website, the house had only two stories and was originally built as a onestory house in 2004 by Matthew Adelaja. Neighbors say that Adelaja built the additions to the one-family house by himself and, at the time of the accident, only one family was living in the house and that was on the first floor.

He lost the house to the banks on a tax lien sale in August of 2010, records from the Department of Finance show.

At the time of the accident, the house was owned by the Bank of New York.

Records show that the house was issued five violations in 2004.

The violations were issued for everything from not having the proper permits for construction to failure to fence off the work. Neighbors said additions constructed at the site in 2004 and 2005 were poorly built.

“I’m surprised it held up this long,” George O’Leary, a carpenter who lives nearby, told the New York Post. “I’ve been watching that sag get bigger for months.”

His brother, a carpenter at the World Trade Center site, agreed.

“They were putting an addition onto a little one-story bungalow. C’mon! You’re just asking for trouble!” said Frank O’Leary. “Structurally, the integrity just wasn’t there. It was built like a treehouse.”

Twelve youngsters were briefly trapped when the floor collapsed at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday.

Eight were rescued by firefighters; the other four made their own way out of the home.

Two people were taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, authorities said, including the older sister.

“When the floor fell, she slid all the way down to the second floor and something fell on her,” said Trey Clark, 13.

“The lights kept going, so it looked like a movie in there, all the dust being lit up by the lights.”

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