RAHWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Investigators on Monday were trying to determine what happened in the dramatic collapse of a Rahway, New Jersey church on Easter Sunday.
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, cellphone video showed debris all over the pews after a huge section of the ceiling came crashing down at the ELIM United Methodist Church – formerly the Korean Union United Methodist Church — at 446 West Grand Ave. in Rahway.READ MORE: NYPD: 85-Year-Old Man Attacked & Robbed Outside Bronx Home
Churchgoers with the Manantial de Vida Pentecostal congregation, which rents out the space, were in the middle of a song at around 2 p.m. Sunday when they heard a cracking sound. Instants later, at least a 30-square-foot section of plaster came raining down as people tried to take cover.
Doris Romero told CBS2 in Spanish told CBS2 that she was convinced a higher power was watching over her on Easter Sunday. She was sitting underneath the collapse and got hit in the head by rubble.
“She said that all she saw was the ceiling falling on everyone, and a lot of people trying to run,” said Romero’s niece, Erica Alfaro.
Romero’s brother carried her out.
“He saw that she was bleeding, and she got hurt on her head,” Alfaro said.
In all, 14 members of the Pentecostal church were also hurt – but not seriously.READ MORE: Mayor De Blasio Announces Vaccine Mandate For All New York City Municipal Workers, Including First Responders
“One thing I know – it’s made our lives; our faith stronger,” said the Rev. Cesar Caceres, pastor of the Manantial de Vida Pentecostal Church.
Investigators on the scene Monday were speculating whether water could have weakened the structure.
“Just the weight of the water with gravity would obviously make it come down, and you know, it came down all in one shot,” said Rahway Fire Chief William Young.
The Rev. Leo Park, pastor of the ELIM United Methodist Church, said his church was “not aware of any water damage inside the building.”
CBS2 tried getting building inspection records from the town, but was told to fill out Freedom of Information Act papers.
Chief Young said if there had been a violation that had been caught, his department would have known.
“That’s the way it works,” he said. “We do our inspections annually.”
The building, a landmark dating back 150 years, remained shut down Monday. Another church in town is allowing the Pentecostal Church to use its building for Sunday services.