Gangplank Collapses Dropping Passengers in Water

Confusion, chaos, and terror -- that's how people are describing Saturday night’s sudden fall from a collapsed pedestrian bridge in Mission Bay. On Sunday the Bahia Hotel closed off the area, covered the mangled walkway and beefed up hotel security.

"The bridge itself twisted like a snake, people were going off," said Robert Wait, who was just a few feet from the bridge.

About 100 people were waiting to get aboard the Bahia Belle when the bridge collapsed, dropping people into the water.

"I was standing on the rail and started falling backwards and thought 'is this really happening’?" Erik Roper said.

Firefighters received the call about the collapse around 9:30 pm.

A man, who didn’t want to be named, said the Bahia staff told everyone to move to the left side on the dock, he assumed to make room to unload the boat on the right side of the dock.

“I was leaning against the railing and I felt it completely give way seconds after everyone moved over,” he said. “I was able to keep my feet on the platform only to find that it too was falling over hard.”

The man said they dropped about 15 feet.

“The next thing I knew I was thrown into about 3 feet of water with everyone else,” he said. “People went down all around me, a lot of people fell on top of other people, a few people were still clinging to the dock. Everyone was confused, trying to get up.”

He said he helped a few people up and then got out of the water. 

“After several minutes someone yelled ‘get out’,” he said “There are live electrical wires in there!’

Two people were transferred to a hospital with minor injuries. Thirteen others refused medical treatment.

"People were very frightened at first but after they found out there was only three feet of water, they were okay," said Battalion Chief Steve Ricci.

Firefighters conducted a search of the waters nearby with the aid of lifeguards and boats. By 10:30 p.m. the incident was "de-escalated."

Many of the victims left the popular Bahia Resort on Mission Bay Drive wrapped in towels and holding their wet clothes.

"Almost everyone was okay. There was a baby in a stroller that fell in, but the baby was okay. The mom was all disheveled," said Kim Lamb.

By Sunday morning, the entire structure was covered in tarp and several security guards stationed around the property were keeping media coverage at a distance. Like many who were there, Wait wants answers, but says the uncovering of what happened likely won't be a surprise.

"By the looks of the bottom, it's just the wood got old," Wait said.

The Bahia Resort was not available for comment on Sunday.

Contact Us