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This is the moment dozens of University of Wisconsin students crashed into a lake after the spindly pier they were on collapsed during a Labor Day celebration.
There were scenes of chaos as around 60 to 80 students plunged into the water while frolicking in the sunshine yesterday afternoon, just a short walk from their university building.
Video shows the carnage at Lake Mendota’s Memorial Union Terrace pier as the packed wooden deck filled with students in their swimwear suddenly folded into the lake in a domino formation.
A shocked onlooker can be seen viewing the action from the shore as the students hit the water screaming with fear, a day before the pier was due to be closed for the season.
‘I turned to this one girl, and we were like, “Oh my God. Did that really just happen?”’ student Gabrielle Willbrandt, one of the many freshmen standing on the pier when it caved in, told WMTV.
Video shows the carnage at Lake Mendota’s Memorial Union Terrace pier as it suddenly folded into the lake, causing the frightened teens to scream with fear
Another video shows people on the remaining section of the pier offering help to those in the water on a crowded day at the lake.
Many of the teenagers can be seen swimming back and a couple of boats also come over to provide assistance.
Nicole Mitchell, who was enjoying a swim in the water nearby, said: ‘It was really scary. It made a really loud noise at first, and then it was basically a fight or flight response.
‘Me and my friend, who I was swimming, treading water with, we swam as fast as we could back to the dock. Everyone was screaming, looking for their things, making sure their friends were okay.’
‘I just heard this single cracking noise,’ University of Wisconsin student Griffin Beronio, who was near the L-shaped dock at the moment when it gave way, told The Badger Herald. ‘The middle parts of it kind of sunk way faster than the sides.’
The fire department arrived at the scene just before 2.40pm. At least 25 people sustained minor injuries, but only one person was taken to hospital, according to the Journal Sentinel. Five people received treatment at the scene.
The packed wooden L-shaped deck was filled with students in their swimwear when it gave way, just a day before the pier was due to be taken down for the season
The pier collapsed in a domino formation as horrified swimmers looked on
The Wisconsin Union said the swimming area beside the pier was not staffed by lifeguards.
‘There were dozens and dozens of students on it, just tanning or jumping into the lake or talking with their friends and suddenly the whole thing gave way.’ Mitchell added, noting that the teenagers had swum back to shore holding their phones aloft to avoid any water damage.
An investigation into the collapse is underway.
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