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7 hospitalized after roof collapses at Givens Hot Springs

Seven people were transported to local hospitals Saturday after the roof over a geothermal pool collapsed at Givens Hot Springs in Owyhee County.

BOISE, Idaho — Seven people were hospitalized Saturday after the roof over a geothermal pool at Givens Hot Springs collapsed, according to the Owyhee County Sheriff's Office

The privately-owned site in Owyhee County did not have snow in the pool area at the time of the collapse and the sheriff's office said the cause appears to be structural. Callers reported several people in the pool area at the time of the collapse around 1:45 p.m.

The Owyhee County Sheriff's Office said six people were taken to local hospitals via ground ambulance and an additional person was transported by a private vehicle. 

Those injured Saturday range between 9 years old and 70 years old. They suffered injuries to the head, shoulder, arm, legs and had lacerations, but were "stable and conscious" when taken to the hospital, according to the news release. 

Derrick Gullion and Nicole Caffrey were at the hot springs with their daughter when the roof collapsed. 

"As we were swimming in the pool, we started noticing that we were finding little wood chunks in the water," Gullion said. "So, we started pulling them out. We decided to look up at the ceiling and all of the roof joists looked like they were literally disintegrating and falling apart."

"Pieces were just falling from this roof. To the point we were uncomfortable for our safety," Caffrey said. 

The family trusted their instincts and left the pool to go to the changing rooms. That's when they heard the roof collapsing. 

"It literally felt like an earthquake just right behind my back," Caffrey said. "It just – just rambling, and all I could think about was all the people in the water, and [Gullion] and my daughter."

Caffrey, Gullion and their 2-year-old daughter were uninjured. The couple covered their daughter's eyes as they witnessed the aftermath of the collapse.  

"My first instinct was to grab our daughter and get to safety, obviously," Gullion said. "But what I saw when everything came down is pretty much everybody just disappeared underneath all the rubble. Obviously there was a lot of people hollering and screaming and scrambling everywhere. Everybody's getting out of the pool. People are getting out injured. People are bleeding."

Witnesses say there were about 15-20 people in the geothermal pool when the roof collapsed.

Sarah Wilson was at the hot springs with her parents and child. She was also in the changing rooms when the collapse happened.

"I walked out of the dressing room and I just saw the collateral damage. Everything was in the kids pool," Wilson said. "Everyone was still climbing out of the debris from under the water. People were trying to find their kids, find their people. Some where outside, people calling 'help'. There was only one or worker in there, and she did a really good job trying to calm people down and get everyone organized."

Sara's dad, Lee Wilson, was in the pool when the roof fell. He suffered a concussion and was released from the ER later Saturday.

"I saw the first first piece of wood come down from the ceiling. I heard it snap, and then the whole thing caved in," Lee Wilson said. "I got hit and knocked out, and I went under the water. A firefighter saved me, and my nephew pulled me out. But it was scary."

Debbie Wilson stayed on the phone with dispatch until help arrived. 

"But I couldn't hear anything, there were so many screams and whatnot," Debbie Wilson said. "They wanted to get the people out of the building because they obviously didn't know how stable it was, but once things got settled down and people had accounted for their kids and whatnot, it went a lot smoother."

Anyone who may have left Givens Hot Springs before deputies arrived is asked to call the Owyhee County Sheriff's Office non-emergency phone number at 208-495-1154, ext. 2. 

The first deputy reportedly arrived at the recreation site 11 minutes after the initial 911 call. The Murphy Reynolds Wilson Quick Response Unit, Murphy Reynolds Wilson Fire, Marsing Ambulance Service and the sheriff's office all responded to Givens Hot Springs Saturday. 

Credit: Sarah Wilson
Credit: Sarah Wilson

Owyhee deputies assisted with evacuating people and triaging those injured in the roof collapse. 

The sheriff's office said each of the responding agencies are "100% volunteers," and thanked them for "their quick response to the scene and their professionalism."

Givens Hot Springs posted the following on its website Saturday:

"Due to a structural issue, we are closed at present. Please check back on this site for future updates. Sorry for the inconvenience."

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