Miami-area deck collapse sends fear among restaurant patrons at waterside eateries

LANTANA, Fla. -- - On a busy Friday night at the Old Key Lime House in Lantana, the deck collapse was on the minds of many enjoying dinner and drinks.

"I think you might find people taking a look. Am I getting into a dangerous situation because it's decrepit, hasn't been cared for, there's no maintenance?" questioned Steve Fox, a Boynton Beach resident sitting on the deck above water at the Old Key Lime House.

Fox said he feels safe enjoying his drink at the Old Key Lime House, but does not know if he is safe for certain.

"I'm sure a lot of people are going, 'Uh oh. I need to go check my pilings,'" said Ryan Cordero, a manager at the Old Key Lime House.

Cordero said his team check their pilings at least once a week. Once a year, Cordero said they take it upon themselves to bring in contractors to inspect their deck.

"You'd need King Kong, Godzilla, Bigfoot here wrestling to do any type of damage," said Cordero.

Managers at the Old Key Lime House said when it comes to building deck seating over water, they "over do it" in terms of safety provisions.

Cordero said they have reinforced the structure to withstand three times their maximum capacity. He said they also have concrete filled shafts and black tarps to protect the wood pilings from damage.

"Nothing is going to happen here. We've weathered countless hurricanes with no problem," said Cordero.

Cordero said despite the deck collapse near Miami, he still thinks it will happen again. He suspects it occurs most frequently when businesses cut corners to save money.

Beyond an initial inspection, the county or state does not regularly check decks, putting the responsibility on business owners.

"If you're around boats, if you're around docks, you take a look at it," said Fox. 

Several restaurants throughout Palm Beach County which have decks over water said crews are looking into if there is more to be done to make deck safer.

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