Collapse leaves student shaken, bruised


Lorrin Rucker is left with stitches, bruises and recollections of a drastic event she will never forget. What began as a college apartment party ended in turmoil for Rucker as she found herself acting quickly to protect her life.

Saturday night, Rucker, along with approximately 100 other people, was in attendance at a party in a Seminole Grand apartment when the floor collapsed due to the overflow of people inside.

Within five minutes of her arrival, Rucker, a member and former captain of the FAMU volleyball team, was enjoying the music and socializing at the party when loud sounds of cracks and gasps began to overpower the room. 

“I grabbed the arm of my friend and tried to run for the door,” Rucker said. “I pivoted and turned, and the floor was taken from up under my feet.” 

Rucker fell through to the first floor with two other attendees immediately landing on top of her, but she continued to fight through the frenzy looking for the lobby – her only way out. 

About 55 people were injured and 12 of them were reportedly taken to the hospital, Rucker  being one of them. 

On Tuesday, the City of Tallahassee announced the penthouse was “structurally sound.”

Michelle Bono, assistant to the city manager, said that some people are confusing the fire code with the building code. 

“The fire code says that you can have 200 square feet per person,” said Bono. “So for that 2100 square foot apartment, it would come out to 11 people. That’s how many people can safely be evacuated. The building code then looks at specific requirements regarding the structural integrity.”

She explained that although apartments have a certain building code, assembly halls have a different standard. The penthouse falls under assembly hall, according to the city.

“The Florida code says that if you have an assembly hall, you have to have 100 pounds per square foot.”

Bono said that the certificate of occupancy was give to Seminole Grand Dec. 1, 1995. After restoration, they will have to be inspected again. 

“We’ve made sure that it made all the requirements and now it’s just a process where they’ll come back to us at the point that they need to get a permit to do repairs.” 

While Seminole Grand is in the beginning stages of repairs, Rucker is left to cope with her injuries.

“I wasn’t in shock or scared until people were taking note of my head wound,” said Rucker. “Because of the adrenaline rush I had no idea that my head was gushing with blood, covering my entire face and clothes.” 

The former captain and member of FAMU volleyball team was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where she was treated for a laceration above her eyebrow, requiring 5 stitches, bruising on her neck and shoulders and contusions on her leg and arms. 

Strapped to a sling, Lorrin Rucker is grateful that her injuries are minor, but her experience at the house party will be one she’ll never forget. 

“Emotionally, I was very affected,” Rucker said. “The blood running down my face, my face and clothes covered in blood, the screams, women and even men crying. I lived out my biggest fear that night.”