Another Accidental Balcony Fall In OC; Balcony Safety Reminders Issued

OCEAN CITY — A Pennsylvania man fell three stories from a balcony in downtown Ocean City last Saturday night, continuing an alarming trend this summer of several similar incidents.

Around 9:20 p.m. last Saturday, Ocean City Police responded to the area of Dayton Lane near 12th Street for a reported fall from a balcony. The investigation revealed a 26-year-old Brookhaven, Pa. fell from a third-floor balcony after leaning too far over the railing. The victim was treated on the scene by EMS and was then transported to PRMC where he was listed in fair condition as of early this week. Alcohol and drugs are considered to be contributing factors in the incident.

Last Saturday’s incident was the fourth accidental fall from a balcony in Ocean City thus far this young season and the fifth overall when police and EMS responded to a victim falling from a building. Perhaps the most bizarre incident happened last week when a West Virginia man fell from a fifth-floor window at a downtown Ocean City hotel after an alleged unprovoked attack on a female pushing a stroller in a hallway two floors below.

Around 9:30 p.m. on June 28, Ocean City Police responded to the Plim Plaza hotel at 2nd Street for a report of an individual who had fallen from a window in a hallway on the fifth floor of the lodging establishment to the alley below. The victim, identified as Ricky Leon Miller, 18, of Hedgesville, West Va., was treated on the scene by Ocean City EMS before being transported to Shock Trauma in Baltimore via Maryland State Police helicopter.

The investigation revealed prior to the fall, Miller assaulted a 26-year-old female who was pushing a baby stroller on the third floor of the hotel. According to the OCPD, the attack was unprovoked and the victim had no prior contact with the victim. Again, alcohol and drugs were believed to be contributing factors.

On June 9, Ocean City Police and EMS responded to the area of 70th Street for a reported fall from a second-floor balcony. The investigation revealed a 20-year-old Myersville, Md. man attempted to sit on the balcony railing and fell back over to the ground 15 feet below. In that incident, a call for MSP Aviation went out initially, but the call was rescinded and the victim was transported to PRMC in Salisbury for treatment of a head injury. Alcohol was deemed to be a contributing factor in the incident.

On May 22, Ocean City Police and Emergency Services responded to the area of 132nd Street after a witness discovered an unconscious man near the entrance to a 10-story condo. Shortly after their arrival, Ocean City EMS determined the 51-year-old local man to be deceased. Unlike the other incidents, Ocean City Police and the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office determined the manner of death to be suicide.

Finally, on May 14, police and EMS responded to a hotel in the area of 25th Street after a 23-year-old West Virginia man fell from a third-floor balcony. The investigation revealed the victim had been reaching over a railing to a balcony below when he fell about 21 feet to the ground. The victim was flown to Shock Trauma and was listed in critical condition in the days following the incident. Again, alcohol was believed to be a contributing factor.

While it is not unusual for Ocean City EMS to respond to balcony falls each summer, four significant incidents during the first month or so of the season is reason for concern this year. Ocean City officials continue to offer common sense safety tips to avoid balcony falls and similar incidents.

For example, never stand on, sit on or lean over balcony railings and never attempt to go from balcony to balcony either from side to side or from top to bottom. In addition, parents are urged to prevent children from being on balconies alone and install wire meshing or some other barrier to prevent children from falling.

“Most of the calls for service involving balcony falls that we respond to in Ocean City are avoidable,” said Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Larmore. “At no point should you, or anyone else, sit on, stand on, walk on or lean over a balcony. We want people to have fun, but more importantly, we want people to be responsible.”

Meanwhile, Ocean City officials are also advising residents and visitors to carefully inspect balconies, decks, guardrails and stairs to prevent potential safety hazards before they occur. While none of the balcony fall incidents thus far this summer have been attributed to failing decks or railings, some in Ocean City, including many of the older buildings, require safety checks and maintenance.

“Poor maintenance is the number one reason for structure failure,” said Ocean City Chief Building Officer Kevin Brown. “All visitors that come to Ocean City to enjoy our wonderful town should be aware of balcony overloading. Too many people standing on a balcony at one time can place an enormous amount of stress on the structure and may result in a major collapse and possible serious injury or even death.”