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Woman dies when deck collapses at wedding party

September 19, 1999
Web posted at: 12:12 PM EDT (1612 GMT) The Associated Press.

LYONS, Oregon (AP) -- A wooden deck packed with guests at a wedding collapsed shortly after the ceremony, killing a California woman and injuring 25 others. The bride and groom, both in their 60s, were not seriously injured.

Most of the victims in the accident at the bride's home Saturday plunged about 40 feet to the bottom of a bluff near the Little North Santiam River.

"It went down in the blink of an eye," said Holly Williams, who had played her flute during the ceremony.

Orleta Larue, 70, of Crescent City, California, died in the fall, officials said. Agnes Mink, 84, the bride's aunt, was in critical condition.

Twenty-three other people, including the bride and groom, were treated at two local hospitals for injuries ranging from a broken collarbone to cuts. Most were reported in fair or good condition.

Julia Hansen of Boise, the bride's daughter, said she and other family members were getting ready to pose for photos when she gathered her children on steps near the deck.

"I said guys, stay over here," Hansen recalled. Seconds later, the deck gave way, and she and her children jumped back to safety.

"By the time I turned back around, the deck was gone," she said. "I saw some legs flying but the rest of the people were already down."

Hansen said her mother had the deck built about five years ago and that it had passed a recent inspection. The cause was under investigation.

Lyons is about 25 miles southeast of Salem.

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