MIAMI (CBS4) – Moments after chaotic calls were made to 9-1-1 about Thursday night’s collapse of a deck at Shuckers Waterfront Grill in North Bay Village, Miami-Dade police rescue divers were given the call to action.
The deck buckled into a V-shape, sending dozens of people and their possessions into Biscayne Bay.
During the hysteria some restaurant patrons dove in to help, while others worked to pull people back to land.
“We started pulling people out of the water as fast as we can. Everybody was pitching in,” said Harrison Ruggiero.
“I started climbing up, somebody helped me get up, I helped a couple people get out,” said Cesar Cabana who fell in the water.
More than 50 rescue crews from multiple agencies came together to help on the scene.
Andre Cruzeta and firefighter Luis Cal were the first Miami-Dade Fire Rescue divers to arrive.
“There was a lot of chaos a lot of people walking around, but wounded,” said Cal.
With their adrenaline running high, the dive teams entered the pitch black water to search for anyone who may have been trapped under the tables, chairs and potted plants.
“When we surveyed the initial area there was heavy pieces of concrete wood there were void spaces underneath the deck,” said Cruzeta.
“More than sight you are trying to feel using your hands like tentacles,” said Cal. “The collapsed structure was unlike anything we had trained for in the past. There’s concrete, wood, sharp edges, nails, â€¦ all of this underneath the water. It’s very stressful diving under those conditions.”
Cal said the thought of their families helps them to get through the difficult search.
“Before any major call the first thing I think about is my family, my wife and kids and try to imagine they were at the incident and hurt and that the people responding would do everything they could to help,” said Cal.
Thankfully no serious injuries were reported.