MIAMI — A packed outdoor deck behind a popular Miami-area sports bar partially collapsed during the NBA Finals on Thursday night, sending dozens of patrons into the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief David Downey said 24 people were injured. Some were taken to area hospitals, and two people were in serious condition.
Authorities said about 100 people were on the deck of Shucker's Bar & Grill in North Bay Village, north of Miami Beach, when it gave way.
Bar customers and rescuers pulled people from the bay amid a chaotic scene. One witness, Martin Torres, 42, of Los Angeles, said he heard a loud explosion and though a boat had struck the deck. He said he looked out from the restaurant and saw people staring up from the water, and then he and others started helping pull patrons out of the water.
"It was shock," said Torres. "People were yelling. Nobody knew. People came out all wet. They were crying. For a while, nobody knows what was going on."
There was initially some concern that people might have been trapped in the water beneath the crumpled deck. But divers searched the waters as helicopters shined spotlights onto the scene, and Downey said later that crews had completed their search and everyone was accounted for.
"According to witnesses, a lot of people jumped in to help," Downey said. "Those efforts can make a lot of difference sometimes."
The accident occurred around 9:45 p.m. as customers were watching the Miami Heat play the San Antonio Spurs.
WSVN-TV news director Tom Tuckwell told the news station that he had his back to the bay when he heard an enormous roar. When he turned around, he saw people disappeared beneath them.
Heat player Dwyane Wade said after the game, "I'd like to share our concerns as an organization and our gratitude to our fans back in Miami, but share our concerns for all that were injured tonight at Shucker's restaurant."
North Bay Village Mayor Connie Leon Kreps went to the scene and said she was at least grateful that no one had died.
"This is a real tragedy," she said. "Shuckers has been here for many, many years. People come from all around to enjoy the view and the food. This is really unfortunate."
She said the city would undertake a thorough investigation of what caused the collapse.
North Bay Village is a small island in Biscayne Bay with a strip of restaurants, hotels, houses and condos that is attached by causeways to the mainland and also on to Miami Beach. Pouring rain fell early Sunday near the Shuckers site but little was visible as the deck was on the other side from the road jutting into the bay.
Though not as trendy as South Beach, North Bay Village is one of the many tourist spots in and around Miami where locals and visitors converge.