Harrowing injuries after balcony collapse at surprise Six60 concert

Hamish McNeilly / Fairfax

Multiple injuries after balcony collapse at Six60 gig in Dunedin

The mother of a student injured when a balcony collapsed during a surprise Six60 concert in Dunedin says her daughter was "the lucky one". 

A picture is emerging of the harrowing injuries suffered by students after a balcony – packed with some 20 people – collapsed during the Kiwi band's gig on Friday night.

Eighteen people were injured.

Lauren Tye suffered a bruised ankle in the balcony collapse.

Lauren Tye suffered a bruised ankle in the balcony collapse.

Michelle Peters said on social media that her daughter had suffered a broken leg and ankle. Another student had broken his neck and a young woman had spinal injuries. 

"She's got a broken leg and ankle just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Can happen to anybody," she wrote on Facebook.

"Her friend was flown to Christchurch with a broken back and the guy beside her broke his neck, could have been so much worse, a fatality, so count your blessings everybody it wasn't your child."

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The young woman in Christchurch Hospital with spinal injuries was in a serious but stable condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. Her family declined to comment.

She was the most seriously injured out of up to four players from the University of Otago women's rugby team who were harmed when the balcony broke and fell about 3 metres on Friday night.

The Castle St courtyard on Saturday after the deck collapsed.

The Castle St courtyard on Saturday after the deck collapsed.

The players, whose season begins on April 9, were socialising together under the balcony when it gave way.

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Coach Terry Kerr understood the woman in Christchurch Hospital had broken her back in multiple places. Another player had two broken legs, another was concussed while a fourth had a sprained ankle.

"It's hit the girls pretty hard, that's for sure. I'm keeping in touch with some of the senior members," he said.

Eighteen people were injured in the balcony fall.

Eighteen people were injured in the balcony fall.

One of the players was Lauren Tye.

Her mother, Seonaid Tye, said she was "the lucky one" and escaped with minor injuries. She stepped back after hearing the balcony crack from above.

Lauren Tye, a third-year student, had called her mum to tell her about the accident while she was being treated in Dunedin Hospital.

A balcony falls near a surprise Six60 concert in Dunedin on Friday night.

A balcony falls near a surprise Six60 concert in Dunedin on Friday night.

"She's shaken, but she's ok."

Seonaid Tye she was immediately concerned her daughter, a human nutrition student, had been seriously injured.

She was discharged later with bruising to her head and ankle.

Police and bystanders rush to help after the balcony collapsed

Police and bystanders rush to help after the balcony collapsed

"She's the lucky one – she probably got out the least injured," she said.

The mother and daughter, from Matamata, had only had a brief chat about what happened, but Seonaid Tye said she was just glad her daughter was safe.

"She's coming back up next weekend, otherwise we would have flown down."

The balcony fell about 3 metres.

The balcony fell about 3 metres.

Others were not so lucky – the friend of a partygoer seriously injured when the balcony came down said his screams were like "nothing I've ever heard".

The Castle St resident said he had been standing on the roof of a van parked at the concert when he heard a loud cracking sound.

"Everything kind of went in slow motion. I just heard this bloke screaming – it was like nothing I've ever heard, you never hear a guy screaming like that," he said.

Up to 1500 people crammed into the surprise Six60 concert near Dunedin on Friday.

Up to 1500 people crammed into the surprise Six60 concert near Dunedin on Friday.

The law student raced over to help, along with other students.

"I could feel the balcony being pulled away from us. He asked me to pull something out of his hip – so I pulled out this big chunk of wood and put my shirt under his head."

His friend suffered a serious leg injury that left the limb "crooked". "It wasn't just broken. I've seen a broken leg. This one was going seriously different ways".

Emergency services and members of the public carry an injured person to an ambulance after a balcony collapsed near a ...

Emergency services and members of the public carry an injured person to an ambulance after a balcony collapsed near a surprise Six60 concert in Dunedin on Friday.

Another reveller suffered two broken legs, and another broke her pelvis.

At least 1500 people had crammed into the space between private rented accommodation for the surprise concert on Friday night.

Several people climbed onto roofs and others were on a series of balconies overlooking the concert venue. Some 20 people were estimated to be on the 3-metre-high balcony before it gave way.

Up to 20 people were on the balcony when it collapsed at a surprise Six60 gig in Dunedin.

Up to 20 people were on the balcony when it collapsed at a surprise Six60 gig in Dunedin.

Of the 18 injured, 16 were discharged by Saturday – one remained in Dunedin Hospital on Sunday and another was flown to Christchurch Hospital.

Residents of the townhouse complex closed ranks and refused to speak to media, as did most of those living in neighbouring properties.

But evidence of what they witnessed would no doubt be useful in the investigation being carried out by Worksafe.

Eight people are seriously injured after a balcony collapsed during a Six60 concert on Dunedin's Castle St.

Eight people are seriously injured after a balcony collapsed during a Six60 concert on Dunedin's Castle St.

Six60's management spokesman, Armand Troy, said the gig was pre-planned. The university, local police, and property owner were all spoken to prior to the event. 

"Local police were on-site the entire event and the school Proctor stopped by during load-in/soundcheck," he said.

Animation Research's Ian Taylor said members of his team had taken their 360-degree camera to the concert to film the band and it had been recording when the balcony fell down.

Six60 outside 660 Castle St in Dunedin.

Six60 outside 660 Castle St in Dunedin.

He said the film started about 15 minutes before the incident, and the high-quality footage had been offered to police and shown to Six60's band members.

The original plan was to release the video sometime this week, but Taylor said after talking with the band, there was "no way" that would happen.

"We decided it was totally inappropriate to release the footage [publicly]."

The band kept playing while paramedics tended to the injured – a request from police to avoid panic.

Troy said the collapse was something the band "never wanted to see".

He said the band was keen to visit those injured during hospital hours.

Emergency services at the March concert struggled to get through the crowds, and some of those injured had to be ...

Emergency services at the March concert struggled to get through the crowds, and some of those injured had to be transported to hospital in police cars.

So too, was the man who helped his friend.

"It's pretty traumatic to be honest. I'd love to go and see him in hospital and tell him what happened."

Richard McKnight, a shareholder in the company that owns the damaged flat, had visited the site and said there appeared to be no sign of structural decay under the balcony.

Six60 turn up 🤘🏼

A photo posted by Sophie Cooper (@sophieelisecooper) on

"It's just a clean break, it doesn't look like there was any deterioration.

"The Dunedin City Council has been in the press already, I think, commenting that it was code compliant . . . there was no evidence of any rot or anything like that."

McKnight, who is working with property manager Matt Cutler, said the six-flat complex was built between 1998 and 1999.

He said he felt for those injured when the balcony collapsed.

Cutler told Stuff on Saturday the tenants were "explicitly told" only eight people were allowed on the balcony.

"The balconies are not built for 20 people."

Wendy Bowman, president of the Otago Property Investors Association, described it as "a devastating situation".

"I guess it's just going to be a matter of sitting down with everyone and analysing the situation and making sure it doesn't happen again," she said.

Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) spokeswoman Tess Trotter said there had been a "reasonable number" of inquiries to its support email address following the incident.

Students were welcome to visit the student support centre during business hours throughout the week. 

Trotter said the popular Hyde St Party, this year scheduled for March 19, would still go ahead. The party had made headlines in previous years after revellers dangerously partied on roofs.

It was too soon to say whether the Six60 concert would influence the OUSA's approach to safety for the party, she said.

 - Stuff

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