Courtesy Photo/San Luis Obispo Fire Department

Mustang News Staff Report

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It was a surreal moment for agricultural business junior Joey Gotelli.

In an instant, he went from standing on a seemingly stable roof at a St. Fratty’s Day party to landing in a tangle of people and wreckage.

“People were screaming,” Gotelli said. “There were people saying, This hurts. That hurts.’ It was a war zone; it was terrible.”

The roof he had been standing on had collapsed under the weight of 30-40 people. Gotelli was shocked for a moment but realized he needed to help after the collapse.

“I tried to get the girls up and make sure those three were okay. I wasn’t just going to immediately leave,” Gotelli said. “I tried to help as many people as I could before I got out of there.”

The scene was chaotic, and the reactions of the crowd mixed.

“Immediately, people just started looking around to see what they could do to help,” Gotelli said. “I feel like everybody else just pulled out their phones and were taking pictures.”

Gotelli pulled a piece of wood from his hand while helping in the aftermath, and once things began to calm down, he noticed his back beginning to hurt. Gotelli told paramedics he preferred to go home and ice his back for the injury.


Saturday morning at 6:21 a.m., a garage roof at 364 Hathway Ave. collapsed at a St. Fratty’s Day party. According to the San Luis Obispo Police Department, thousands of students were in the neighborhood for the party.

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Nine people were treated for injuries related to the collapse, according to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center spokesperson Ron Yukelson.

Injuries ranged from scrapes and bruises to one person who had a piece of debris impaled in their thigh.

Two people were treated for being highly intoxicated, Yukelson said.

One person with a concussion was admitted to the hospital and released on Saturday.

None of the injuries were life-threatening, Yukelson said.

Cal Poly has begun an investigation into the incident.

In a universitywide email signed by Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong and Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey it was said:

“This event raises significant concern about the judgment exercised by both the party organizers and attendees regarding the health and safety of themselves and others. The university will investigate all aspects of this incident and will respond appropriately when the facts are known.”

University spokesperson Matt Lazier said administrators in charge of the university investigation are gathering as much information as possible. They are in touch with local authorities, as well as conducting their own investigations.

Lazier said the university is still trying to determine to what extent, if any, greek life was involved in the party and roof collapse.

In a statement, he said that if greek life has connections to the party, the university “reserves the right to exercise additional options regarding the status of social fraternities and sororities.”

But it’s too early to discuss any possible consequences stemming from the investigation, Lazier said.

Local law enforcement had been aware students might celebrate St. Fratty’s Day early to avoid fines, San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Garrett Olson said.

Cal Poly Dean of Students Jean DeCosta issued an email to students this past week, mentioning  “severe sanctions and double fines starting at $700.”

The San Luis Obispo Police Department increased its staff in preparation but didn’t know the event would start Saturday morning, SLOPD Capt. Chris Staley said.

SLO Fire was well staffed, Olson said, but it wasn’t expecting the size of this event.

“Obviously, something of this magnitude just strips the resources of the community,” he said.

The collapsed building is a “complete loss,” Olson said.

“I am just glad that everyone is okay,” Gotelli said. “For how it turned out, it could have been way worse.”

Samantha Pryor, Kyle McCarty, Leah Horner and Kayla Missman contributed to this report.

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