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'83 deck collapse shocked Rock Hill

Part of an 8-inch concrete slab of the parking deck in downtown Rock Hill collapsed on Nov. 11, 1983.
Part of an 8-inch concrete slab of the parking deck in downtown Rock Hill collapsed on Nov. 11, 1983.

The parking deck collapse at Charlotte's SouthPark Mall on Thursday evoked memories of a similar incident 24 years ago in Rock Hill.

On Nov. 11, 1983, the city-owned downtown parking deck was packed with the cars of vendors selling their wares at the annual Christmas craft show. Back then, a roof enclosed downtown to create the TownCenter Mall.

No one was hurt when an 8-inch concrete slab crashed down from the deck's upper level. Emergency crews initially feared the worst when they arrived.

The crash left six cars damaged or crushed, but each was unoccupied at the time. Phil Land, the mall's manager at the time, still marvels at the fortunate outcome.

"It's just unbelievable, given the number of people who were at the mall," Land said Thursday. "Even upstairs, you would've thought there would've been people wandering around. The fact was, the vast majority of people were inside the mall."

It took more than three months for workers to unearth the last of the buried cars.

The cause of the accident remained in dispute for years, but officials blamed faulty structural supports. Years later, the city made renovations to the deck, which now boasts a brick facade and panel photographs of old-timey automobiles.

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