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30 worshipers plunge into pond when deck collapses

LAKELAND, Fla. (BP)–A wooden deck collapsed during a Baptist church service in Lakeland, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 29, plunging more than 30 worshipers into a 4-foot retention pond just as the choir was ending the morning’s final hymn, according to the Associated Press.

Six women were injured when the 25-foot by 40-foot deck gave way during outdoor church services celebrating Bethel Baptist Church’s 137th anniversary, said Polk County sheriff’s spokesman Sterling Ivey.

The women were treated and released at Lakeland Regional Medical Center with mostly minor injuries, Ivey said. The most serious injury was a fractured knee suffered by Ann Ashley, 66.

Pastor Larry Taylor, a keyboard player, and 36 choir members were on the deck when it snapped and sent them on a 10-foot plunge into the pond as about 500 shocked churchgoers watched.

“I just knew it was in God’s hands and felt like we would be OK,” Ashley said from her home late Sunday.

The deck builders won’t be charged, police said.

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