The roof of a New Jersey church collapsed at an Easter service sending 14 people to the hospital for treatment. Witnesses say that the roof began making a cracking sound before collapsing on the congregation.
Reuters reports that the roof collapsed on the congregation at Korean Union United Methodist Church in Rahway, New Jersey, during the Easter Sunday service just after 2:15 p.m. According to the report, a 30-foot section of the roof fell in the collapse. It sent plaster falling down onto the church-goers below. Those directly below the collapse were trapped, which resulted in a rescue effort. The report indicates that 14 people were sent to the hospital, one with serious injuries. The Rahway Fire Department Battalion Chief Daryl Rutter says that the church-goers were lucky as the collapse could have resulted in mass casualties.
“They were very, very fortunate. We could have had a bunch of fatalities.”
NJ.com notes that dozens of people were trapped after the collapse that left the congregation covered in dust. Emergency responders were able to remove the trapped church-goers from the rubble and provide medical care. The 14 people that were taken to the hospital for treatment have all been released from the hospital’s care.
Witnesses of the collapse say that the congregation was joining together in song when the roof began to make a cracking sound. The roof then collapsed onto the congregation leaving dust and debris throughout the church. Witnesses note that once the debris began to fall, people started screaming and running for cover. CBS spoke to one parishioner who said the roof began to collapse slightly before crashing to the ground but that he didn’t think it would actually fall.
“We saw the ceiling going down. Well not going down, but collapsing. But we didn’t think it would actually fall.”
Two hours after the collapse, dust-covered members of the congregation could be seen standing outside with the Rahway Fire Department who was still assessing the scene. Police Chief John Rodger says that maybe the congregation got a “little help from God” as no one was killed.
“Nobody was killed, so, maybe being on Easter Sunday we got a little help from God on this one.”
It is unknown at this time what caused the roof to collapse, but an investigation is ongoing. The church will be evacuated and taped off with yellow police tape until an official cause can be determined.
[Image Credit: Johannes Simon/ Getty Images ]