"There was a huge crashing sound," said 15 year old Claudine Amsalem. "And when I looked over, the pool was gone and my sisters and cousin were gone with it."
Amsalem said the family had just set up a 15 by 4 foot above-ground pool yesterday on the deck of their new home at 2358 National Drive. The family had been swimming in the pool all morning and afternoon and several people had gotten out of the pool to get ready for dinner. Ten to fifteen minutes later, the deck collapsed.
"We were most concerned about our little sister Henny," said 13 year old Luly Amsalem. "She's only four years old and doesn't know how to swim"
Thankfully, four-year-old Henny Needelman was wearing floaties on her arms in the pool. When the deck and pool collapsed into Jamaica Bay, family members say Henny floated in the water until her father and cousin could help pull them up to safety.
Nine-year-old Eleanor Amsalem was the most seriously injured. One neighbor said she was taken into the ambulance with cuts and scrapes, bleeding from the head. A third girl, between 16 and 17 years old was the least injured. All three were sent to Kings County Hospital by ambulance.
"I've lived here for four years," said a downstairs neighbor who rents the first floor apartment at 2358 National Drive. "And I never even felt safe walking on the deck. You can tell the boards are old just by looking at it. The landlord really should have maintained the deck."
Neighbors who wish to remain anonymous told News 4 that the decks which are supported only by piles and beams were never designed to hold a lot of weight. A 15 by 4 foot pool, once filled, can weigh as much as 13-thousand pounds and much more when people actually climb into it.
"I'm just glad that all my sisters and my cousin were pulled out safely," said Claudine. "This could have been much, much worse."
An inspector from the New York City Buildings Department responded to the collapse and cited the landlord with a violation.
Calls to the landlord were not returned.