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Records Show Shuckers Deck Never Inspected

NORTH BAY VILLAGE (CBS4) - Although city officials claimed it had recently passed an inspection, the Shuckers restaurant deck that collapsed into Biscayne Bay Thursday night injuring two dozen people was never inspected, CBS4 News has learned.

During a Friday afternoon press conference, North Bay Village Police Chief Robert Daniels said that in 2011 the deck underwent a review as part of a Miami Dade County mandated structural inspection that is required for all commercial properties every 40 years.

But while the hotel and restaurant on the property were inspected and deemed sound by a structural engineer, CBS4's Jim DeFede discovered the engineer responsible for the review never bothered to inspect the deck because he believed he was not required to do so.

It turns out the county's 40-year inspection and recertification requirement does not include structures that go into the water. It only included the actual buildings on the property.

City officials were scrambling late Friday to try and understand the county rules and why they were never made aware of the fact that the deck wasn't inspected.

In combing through city files and reviewing building records, CBS4 News also found that in 2009 the owners of Shuckers applied for a permit to replace the wooden deck.

It was a lengthy and expensive process to apply for the permits, involving approvals from a variety of agencies.

Why they wanted to replace the deck isn't clear and restaurant officials aren't saying.

Among the questions left unanswered: Did they seek to replace the deck because they detected problems with it back in 2009?

And even though they received permission to replace it, North Bay Village officials say they have no record of the work ever being done.

It is not known why Shuckers cancelled the project.

Another area of concern from the records is that nobody seems to know what the actual capacity - how many bodies - the deck was designed to hold.

At one point during Friday's press conference, Chief Daniels said if there were 100 people on the deck - as has been reported - that number was within the capacity for the deck. But when asked what the actual capacity for the deck is, the chief said: "I don't know?"

City officials told CBS4 News they thought it was the Miami Dade Fire Department's responsibility to set the number. But the fire department said it was up to the city's engineers to establish that figure.

And while city officials say capacity wasn't a factor - it is nevertheless troubling that nobody seems to know the answer.

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