2 dead, US water polo players injured in balcony collapse at Korean nightclub


Posted on: July 27th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Vmargineanu/iStock(NEW YORK) — At least two people are dead, and several others injured, including members of USA Water Polo, after a balcony collapsed at a nightclub hosting U.S. athletes in Gwangju, South Korea, which is currently hosting the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, according to several reports.

USA Water Polo announced on its Twitter feed that several senior team players were at the club when the collapse took place.

“An incident occurred in Gwangju, South Korea in which USA Water Polo Senior National Team athletes were present,” the national governing body for the sport said. “All USA Water Polo athletes are safe and accounted for. Our thoughts are with all those involved.”

Four athletes were injured in the collapse, including two male players and two female players.

Women’s team member Kaleigh Gilchrist, of Newport Beach, California, was the most seriously injured. She suffered a “deep left leg laceration” that required surgery Saturday. Teammate Paige Hauschild, of Santa Barbara, California, required stitches for a right arm injury.

Men’s team members Johnny Hooper, from Los Angeles, needed stitches for a cut on his left hand, and Ben Hallock, of Westlake Village, California, suffered minor scrapes to his legs.

Photos from the club showed a large section of the balcony fell on top of the bar below.

The FINA World Aquatics Championships, which includes competitions in swimming, diving and water polo, is being held in Gwangju through Sunday.

“This is an awful tragedy,” Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo, said in a statement. “Players from our men’s and women’s teams were celebrating the women’s world championship victory when the collapse occurred at a public club. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families.”

The U.S. women’s water polo team defeated Spain to win its third straight world title Friday morning U.S. time.

Yonhap, a South Korean media outlet, had reported an American diver was injured, which USA Diving spokesperson Jennifer Lowery told ABC News was not true.

“All of the U.S. divers have already left Gwangju, so none of them would have been at the nightclub,” Lowery said.

FINA said in a statement to ESPN, “As some Championships’ participants were present at the moment of the accident, FINA is carefully monitoring the situation and will activate all measures to ensure health care and assistance is provided whenever necessary.”

Two people, both South Korean men, were killed in the collapse, The Associated Press reported. Ten others were injured, including two Americans who were in attendance to watch the competition.

It is unclear if athletes from other countries were also in attendance at the club, located close to the athlete’s village.

ABC News’ Alex Faul, Joohee Cho, Nick Cirone and Jason Volack contributed to this report.

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