Crime - Sacto 911

Residents say repairs promised before fatal stairway collapse at Folsom apartment complex

Folsom police inspect the site of a collapsed stairway at an apartment complex.
Folsom police inspect the site of a collapsed stairway at an apartment complex. jcalagiovanni@sacbee.com

Residents of a Folsom apartment complex where a man died Friday in a staircase collapse said apartment managers had promised months ago that they would work on staircase maintenance.

The city’s online records indicate that several building permit applications were filed in recent months for landing repairs at The Legends at Willow Creek, a 280-unit complex at 180 S. Lexington Drive.

Folsom police and fire personnel responded at 2:41 p.m. to a report of a stairway collapse and found a 27-year-old man severely injured. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name had not been released because his family had not yet been notified.

Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Bates said no one else was injured. The cause of the collapse will be investigated by the Fire Department and city building inspectors, he said.

The stairway that collapsed connected landings on the second and third floors. Vinod Thirumurthy, who lives on the first floor of the affected building, said the victim lived on an upper floor and was crushed by the collapsing staircase. Thirumurthy and another resident tried to move the concrete slabs, but he said the man had already stopped breathing.

“I go underneath that staircase everyday,” Thirumurthy said.

He lives in the building with his family and said he feels unsafe.

“As soon as the management speaks with us, I want to vacate as soon as possible,” Thirumurthy said.

Larry Kamer, a spokesman for the owners of the Legends at Willow Creek, said the owners and management company extend their condolences to the victim’s family and friends. He said work to reinforce all the staircases in the complex was underway after a stairway collapsed about a year ago, and the stairway that collapsed Friday was high on that repair list. All stairways were being inspected Friday evening, he said, and temporary reinforcements will be made to ensure their safety until permanent fixes can be made.

The Legends at Willow Creek was built in 2001, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. San Francisco-based Gerson Bakar & Associates, which owns and manages numerous apartments along the West Coast, is listed as the manager on Willow Creek’s website.

Other residents who gathered near the collapsed staircase Friday said the staircases in at least two other buildings in the complex were unstable.

Resident Mikey Canihan said the staircases in his building and others nearby had been reinforced, but he wasn’t sure whether work had been done on the building where Friday’s collapse occurred.

Elsewhere in the complex, Eugene Asare pointed out temporary wooden supports that were holding up a staircase to his second-floor apartment. He said that workers had been repairing it for about two weeks and that he could feel the stairs vibrate when he climbed them.

“If it drops, this is not going to do anything,” Asare said, pointing to the wooden supports. “This is a two-by-four.”

Kamer said management will work to accommodate residents concerned about safety and is prepared to house them in guest quarters or hotels until repairs are made.

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