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Video: Students injured after pier holding at least 60 collapsed

College students and other members of the public were injured when a lake pier they were standing on collapsed.
Posted at 6:13 PM, Sep 05, 2023

Some college students celebrating Labor Day by the water took an unexpected dunk when the surface beneath them caved in, injuring around 20 people.

An estimated 60 to 80 University of Wisconsin-Madison students and other visitors were standing on the Memorial Union Terrace pier when several sections of it collapsed into Lake Mendota Monday afternoon. 

Many of those who fell swam back to shore upon the collapse, the Madison Fire Department said. One person was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and five others were treated for injuries by EMTs and paramedics at the scene. The rest of the 20 to 25 had minor injuries, an official said.


The fire department's lake rescue team performed an underwater search upon arriving at the scene to confirm there were no additional people trapped or drowned.

Footage shows the moment the structure crumbled section by section, shocking bystanders and those on it. The student who took the video told 27 News he took his camera out to show how many people were crammed onto the pier. Other students near the pier said they heard a "boom" when the collapse occurred, like Nicole Mitchell, who was swimming nearby.

"It was really scary," she told WMTV. "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."

The university confirmed the swimming area was not staffed with lifeguards at the time of the incident, and it's currently investigating how it occurred. 

The pier was set to be removed Tuesday for the end of the summer season, the university said.

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