By Logan Hullinger and Renee Williamson
INDIANA – Ashle D. Baines, 22, a junior criminology major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was attending a packed party at 984 Oakland Ave. in the wee hours of Feb. 27. A song came on, and the crowd of what police later estimated at about 60 people were on their feet, dancing all at once.
That’s when the living-room floor caved in, crashing the crowd into the basement.
“People were, like, screaming and freaking out,” Baines said in a March 18 interview in her South 13th Street apartment. “I was really scared.”
Baines was among the people plunged into the hole.
“It was taller than me,” Baines recalled. “I had to have people pull me out because I couldn’t get out on my own.”
The scene was chaotic.
“Sawdust was in the air,” she said. “Everyone was coughing. You couldn’t see. It was crazy. People were jumping out the window.”
No one was injured.
“Everyone was just kinda, like, ‘Whoa, we can’t believe that just happened,’” Baines said.
Police officers and firefighters responded at 3:38 a.m., according to a police incident report. Later that day, borough officials ringed the two-story lime-green rental with yellow caution tape. A borough code-enforcement officer posted a “danger” sign in the small front yard that declared the building “unfit for human occupancy.”
The property is a duplex at 980-984 Oakland Avenue, across the street from Weyandt Hall, the IUP natural sciences building. The collapse occurred in the first-floor unit.
Upstairs, a tenant was home. Borough police reported that she “heard a rumbling sound and was not sure what happened.”
All of the building’s eight tenants were evicted.
“IUP Police made arrangements for residents to have a place to live,” borough police reported.
Indiana Building Code Department administrative assistant Brenda L. Darr declined comment when contacted by phone on March 18.
Tristin Harper, property manager of Crimson Hawk Rentals, also declined comment during a March 17 phone interview.
But she did offer to rent the place for fall 2016.
Logan Hullinger, a sophomore journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from Clarion, is a staff reporter for The HawkEye. He can be contacted at L.R.Hullinger@iup.edu.
Renee Williamson, a junior journalism and public relations major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Camp Hill.