County where deck fell has no safety code
BY RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle
The collapse of a deck at a new home that killed one man and injured numerous others occurred in a county that has no safety building codes or inspectors for new dwellings, the Elk County sheriff said Monday.
Sheriff Doug Hanks said his office is still trying to pull together a report on the injuries Saturday night, when the balcony on an upper deck broke away from the house and fell on the guests below.
Owners Brian and Donna Schreck of Wichita were holding a housewarming party at their new home on 1765 Road 25, about five miles north of Fall River. Gerard K. “Bud” Seiler, 46, of Andale was killed in the accident.
Others were taken to a hospital in nearby Fredonia, Hanks said. Some were airlifted to a Wichita hospital.
Hanks said Monday that Elk County has no building safety codes, nor does it inspect new structures.
“Not in Elk County – we’re not even zoned,” Hanks said.
Kansas does not require cities or counties to have building safety codes.
“Obviously, some of the rural counties and cities have resisted this as being too much government intrusion,” said Ed Flentje, chairman of the Hugo Wall School of Public and Urban Affairs at Wichita State University. “And then something like what happened last weekend just highlights it.”
Wichita has had building codes on its books since 1888, said Kurt Schroeder, superintendent of the city’s Office of Central Inspection. The city bases its code on the International Building Code and International Residential Buildings Codes.
Hanks, the sheriff, said his office is still trying to determine what happened Saturday night but that it appeared the balcony collapsed under the weight of too many guests.
Brian and Donna Schreck declined to comment when contacted Monday night at their Wichita home.
Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.