(Photo: Screenshot via The Chronicle in Laurel)
Thirty-five youth were injured Wednesday evening when the second floor of a Baptist church in Myrick, Miss., collapsed during an evening worship service, authorities said.
Nearly 80 teenagers from grades seven through 12 were attending an evening worship service at the Family Life Center at Freedom Baptist Church when at around 8:20 p.m., the second floor of the church reportedly collapsed. Some of the youth reported hearing a rumbling sound while others said they saw the floor begin to move in waves before it collapsed on the ground level below.
Authorities are now reporting that of the 80 teenagers present at Wednesday's church service, 35 were injured, mostly sustaining minor cuts and bruises due to the fall. One attendee, a 16-year-old girl, was transported to a hospital in nearby Hattiesburg with a reported head injury, while 19 others were taken to the local hospital in Laurel. All other youth injured in the incident reportedly did not require hospital attention and were medically serviced on church grounds.
Tommy Davis, the pastor at Freedom Baptist Church, told The Chronicle in Laurel that in the end, God was watching over the teens in the church because no one was seriously injured. "In the middle of the student service, the floor – which is a second-story floor – gave way, causing about 70 students to fall," Davis said. "But it's got to be said that no one was seriously injured, no one was trapped. God's hand was certainly taking care of the kids who were in that building."
The pastor went on to praise church leaders for keeping the youth calm after the incident and helping to reunite everyone with their parents.
Authorities have not determined what caused the second-story floor to collapse, but they have ruled out the possibility of weather, as temperatures were fair Wednesday evening with just a slight wind. Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge confirmed to WDAM-TV that the drop from the second to the first floor was 12 feet.
A dispatcher for the local sheriff's office told The Associated Press that as of Thursday morning they had no new information on the status of the injured or a lead as to what caused the incident.