Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
A funeral being held in a historic Louisiana church Saturday was interrupted when the floor below the mourners collapsed, injuring several people.
The Daily Star in Hammond reported that the floor at the Greater St. James AME Church was weakened by termite damage. As the family and friends of Carl Weary walked into the sanctuary for his memorial, the beams broke under their weight.
“The foundation went down and the wood floor cracked,” Walter Ard, a witness and the contractor who built the church’s roof, told the Daily Star.
Another witness, Clifford Walker, told the newspaper that the floor gave way without warning. He attributed the incident to “years of neglect and termite infestation.”
The Greater St. James AME Church in Hammond, Louisiana, is pictured in a May 2011 Google Street View image.
Lacy Landrum, director of administration for the city of Hammond, told the Daily Star that nearly a dozen people had to be rescued. Several of them suffered minor injuries, and two mourners had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital.
According to a website belonging to the Greater St. James Historic Preservations, the church was established in 1867 as a branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was the first black church in Hammond. The current church was completed in 1926.
NOLA.com reported that the church has been shut down by the city since Saturday’s accident.