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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, December 11, 2023
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Memorial Union Pier collapses, causes multiple injuries

Multiple witnesses told The Daily Cardinal the pier was overcrowded prior to collapsing Monday afternoon.


A section of the Memorial Union Pier collapsed around 2:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, causing multiple injuries. 

A police boat arrived prior to 3:00 p.m., at which point Union and UWPD employees had restricted access to the pier. A Memorial Union employee said that no one was on the boat at that time. 

“[The pier] was crowded when it fell,” the employee told The Daily Cardinal.

A dive team was in the water around that time.

Matt Stilling, a UW-Madison senior, was sitting at a table by the pier with friends when they “heard a loud crackling sound.” 

The sound was support beams giving out.

“A ton of people were swimming in the water after it collapsed, but no one seemed to be too severely injured or panicking,” Stilling added.

Stilling and his friends were discussing the pier being overcrowded “right before [the collapse].”

“People were standing shoulder-to-shoulder along the whole pier,” he said. “I’m not sure if there was a max capacity listed anywhere, but I’m sure it was reached.”

Stilling said most injuries seemed to be cuts and scrapes, but he saw one person on a gurney.

“He didn’t look too bad, but someone said he may have hit his head,” he said. 

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Though the group worried about more serious injuries while initially watching the event, Stilling said “it seem[ed] like everyone resurfaced OK.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department was unable to provide all details due to their ongoing response, but did confirm the incident caused “multiple minor injuries.”

Shauna Breneman, Wisconsin Union communications director, said in a public statement that one person was transported to the hospital with “non-life threatening injuries.” Five others reported injuries and were treated and released at the Union.

The Madison Fire Department estimated 60-80 people — a mix of students and “members of the public” — on the dock at the time, Breneman added. No lifeguard was on duty at the time of the pier’s collapse.

The pier is currently closed, and UW-Madison is investigating the event. University officials had already planned to remove the pier Tuesday, Sep. 5th, due to “the end of the summer season.” 

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. This article was last updated on Tuesday, Sep. 5 at 6:15 a.m. 

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Cormac LaLiberte

Cormac LaLiberte is the current editor of the college news desk. He is a junior studying linguistics, and has previously reported primarily on social issues pertaining to UW-Madison. Get in touch on Twitter @CormacLaLiberte.

Liam Beran

Liam Beran is the Campus News Editor for The Daily Cardinal and a third-year English major. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for campus, state and in-depth news. Follow him on Twitter at @liampberan.


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