United Kingdom

How mum died after a balcony collapsed while she was taking a picture at her Christmas work party

A mother was killed in a horrifying balcony collapse after her colleagues rushed to take a group picture.  

Cheryl Taylor, 59, died when a balcony at a home in Doncaster, Melbourne's north-east, gave way under the weight of more than 30 Christmas party guests in December 2017.  

She had been enjoying the Tupperware staff party from a lounge chair in the middle of the balcony with fellow manager Sarah Kajoba, 37, when they plunged 2.7 metres to a paved area below. 

Cheryl Taylor (pictured right with daughter Melissa left), 59, died when a balcony collapsed at a Christmas party in north-east Melbourne in December 2017 

Ms Taylor (pictured) was sitting on a lounge chair in the middle of the deck when around 30 guests and Tupperware colleagues tried to take a group photo and the balcony cracked 

Guests reported hearing a cracking sound before a 'moment of suspension' when six metre wide section of the balcony broke and when it fell to the ground.   

Ms Taylor died at the scene while Ms Kajoba was rushed to hospital with catastrophic and ultimately fatal injuries.

Ms Taylor's daughter Melissa posted a photo of them to Facebook and paid tribute to her mother, captioning it: 'There is a light and it never goes out.'  

Ambulance Victoria said it was forced to activate its major emergency response plan to appropriately deal with the incident, turning the entire suburban street into a makeshift emergency room.

There were 17 people rushed to hospital with varying injuries, and 12 more treated at the scene.

Ambulance Victoria said 10 women and seven men aged between 20 and 69-years-old sustained soft tissue injuries, fractures and lacerations and were transported to Box Hill, Austin and Maroondah hospitals.

Tupperware manager Sarah Kajoba, 37, also died and 26 other guests were injured after the balcony collapsed at the Doncaster home (pictured) 

An inquest is examining whether the balcony (pictured) complied with safety permits 

An inquest is now examining whether the original balcony was fit for occupancy, and if the balcony in its enlarged state complied with permits and the feasibility of a rating system for balconies

Manningham Council building surveyor Russell Mills said the balcony, constructed in the mid-1980s, didn't comply with original building permits and modifications had since been made.

Floor joists ran the opposite direction to those on the approved plan, a staircase had been constructed at the back of the deck and a verandah over the top.

Pictured: Victoria Police examining the Doncaster East home in December 2017 

The area below the deck had also been excavated.

'A number of defects and age-related deficiencies were located including weathering and decaying of structural members,' he said.

The party hosts were renting the Doncaster East property.

The owner has since complied with orders to replace the balcony and the inquest heard the owner is getting quotes to demolish the property entirely.

Three other experts are due to give evidence at the inquiry before coroner Paresa Spanos, who saw the balcony the day after the collapse.

The injured are planning to seek compensation and lawyer Lily Boskovski, representing six of the 17 people injured, says the psychological scars cannot be underestimated.

'They've witnessed their coworkers die. I can't even imagine how it might feel to one minute be enjoying a party and then saving yourself from dying,' she told AAP last year.

 Ambulance Victoria said 10 women and seven men aged between 20 and 69-years-old sustained soft tissue injuries, fractures and lacerations

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