Man dies in New London stairwell collapse - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Man dies in New London stairwell collapse


One man is dead and neighbors are asking questions following a frightening porch collapse in New London.

The incident was reported Monday afternoon at the Nutmeg Woods condo complex.

Danny Rodriguez said he still can't believe what happened.

"It sounded like a big boom," he said. "I thought somebody dropped something they were carrying up, like a sofa or chair. It was loud."

New London police said 32-year-old John Deptulski from Uncasville was on the second-floor stairs when they gave way, and he fell to the concrete below. Emergency crews rushed him to a local hospital, where he later died from severe head injuries.

Neighbors said they walk up and down the stairs every day and said they could hear the steps creaking, but never imagined the stairs would suddenly collapse.

"How much effort are they putting into securing these things? Obviously this place is old because it's been here for a long time," said neighbor Steven Morales.

Late Monday evening, crews looked over the dangling beams at the building that was built in 1969, according to city officials.

"I've walked up those stairs more than a couple of times, thank God that hasn't happened to me." Morales said.

As crews look into the collapse, the city's building department has already condemned the building, making it off-limits since the back porches and rear stairs are the only secondary exits from the apartment. Three families have been displaced.

Eyewitness News saw Nutmeg Woods workers at nearly every building, hammering in reinforcement beams and boards to these steps.

"Anything can be fixed," said neighbor Georgette Pearson. "But once you have a life lost, it's too bad."

New London's Building Department said they only go out to inspect when they are alerted to an issue and to their knowledge, the stairs weren't inspected by a city official in years.

"That would terrify me," said Kylie Morrison. "I'd want to make sure where I'm renting, is making sure that they're keeping up on regular maintenance, because that's scary."

Eyewitness News called the state fire marshal's office to find out if there are any apartment inspection standards, or how they independently hold landlords accountable, but haven't heard back.

While crews will continue to investigate the incident, officials said they do expect to give out fines to the company that owns the apartment.

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