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Code violation likely culprit behind Wonder Lake deck collapse, authorities say

WONDER LAKE – A building code violation was the likely cause of a Fourth of July deck collapse that injured nine people, according to county officials.

Inspections conducted in the aftermath of the accident concluded that the ledger board of the second-story deck was fastened to the home with nails and screws, rather than leg bolts as mandated by code, county Planning and Development Director Dennis Sandquist said. A ledger board connects a deck to the frame of a house and provides much of a deck’s strength and stability.

Eight adults and one juvenile were on the deck watching fireworks at the 2917 E. Wonder Lake Road home when the deck separated from it. Six people were taken to area hospitals with injuries not considered life-threatening, and three were cleared at the scene, according to McHenry County Sheriff’s Office reports. Victims had head, neck, back and hip injuries.

Homeowner Allan Brink applied for a permit in 2004 to build the deck as well as make some additions to the house. Sandquist said that the improper anchoring is contrary to the plans submitted to the county. The planning department, given the time elapsed, likely will not levy the $500 fine that can charged for such a violation, he said.

The home had run afoul of county building code as recently as last year, according to records obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Inspections stemming from a September 2015 complaint from a tenant concluded that Brink, who according to records rents out the home, had built another deck, an addition and heating without permits – the inspector in his notes called the work in question “poor.”

The complaint stated that part of a wraparound deck had collapsed and was being propped up on cinder blocks.

Brink was required to take down the wraparound deck, Sandquist said. The deck that collapsed on July 4 was not inspected as part of the 2015 visit because it had the requisite permit.

Reporter Hannah Prokop contributed to this story.

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