An elevated deck overlooking a pond and golf course is what convinced Koroush Khandehroo, a 47-year-old professor at the University of Regina, and his wife, Mahshad Khaniki, to buy a new townhouse in Northeast west of Regina in 2015.
For nearly five years, the couple considered the second-floor terrace a peaceful oasis from which they could watch birds and golfers.
Then, on June 22, 2020, the bridge collapsed beneath them and turned their lives upside down.
That morning Khanderhoo had invited his wife to join him on deck for a cup of coffee. She heard strange noises and leaned over the railing to investigate. Khandehroo heard loud creaks.
“I wanted to warn my wife that something was going on, but there was no time. In a second, we fell on the terrace,” he said.
The bridge detached from the house, falling beneath them. The couple fell about three meters and landed on the stone patio, under a table, chairs and an outdoor umbrella stand. Khandehroo was able to crawl free, but his wife, who was bleeding, was trapped.
shout for help
Their neighbor, Cindy Knapman, said she heard a loud bang, accompanied by screams, and ran to help the couple. She and another neighbor called 911.
“Everybody was shaken up because it happened to them and it could have happened to us too,” Knapman said. “We were all scared. We were really worried about them. It was quite a mess.”
Khaniki was taken by ambulance to Pasqua Hospital and had to undergo multiple surgeries for a broken heel and ankle. A doctor’s report from July 29, 2020 stated that the long-term prognosis included stiffness and arthritis. Almost a year later, an assessment by a physiotherapist determined that she would have “permanent loss of movement and likely lifelong impaired gait. Whether or not she develops arthritis remains to be seen.”
Pacesetter team ‘feels bad’
Khandehroo neighbors immediately notified Pacesetter Homes, the major construction company and property developer that had erected the row of duplexes on Kestral Drive, overlooking Wascana Creek and the Joanne Goulet Golf Course.
Pacesetter contacted all residents who had back decks along the golf course and told them “not to use their decks until further notice,” according to emails from then-Vice President Curt Keil. which were provided to CBC News.
He said, “[O]your team feels bad about what happened.”
Keil said the collapsed bridge at 8829 Kestral Drive, which belonged to Khandehroo, was structurally sound but “the connection point between the bridge and the house has failed over time. We will share our findings with the industry so that this can mitigate the risk of this happening to other Regina residents.
Knapman said the decks were not properly secured to the homes with lag screws or bolts, as required by the National Building Code.
“They came and fixed them all,” she said.
Still, it took Knapman an entire year to feel comfortable sitting on her patio.
“Even though I knew they finally secured it well, when you walk through something like this – or see it – you just don’t feel safe,” she said.
Khandehroo has hired a lawyer to sue the builder and property developer, Pacesetter New Homes Ltd. and Pacesetter Homes (Regina), for, among other things, damages for pain, suffering, disability and psychological injury, as well as loss of income, costs and punitive damages.
The statement, filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench on November 3, 2020, alleges that Pacesetter failed to obtain the necessary permits or inspections and “was negligent” in using common nails to secure the bridge.
An August 2015 occupancy permit shows that the home’s basement and back patio had not been approved. Khanderhoo said he found no record of a bridge permit or municipal inspection of the bridge before 2020, when the bridge was rebuilt.
Pacesetter’s defense statement said they “exercised due diligence consistent with the standard expected of a reasonably prudent homebuilder” and denied negligence.
The legal filing suggested that the owners may not have maintained the patio or placed too much furniture on it, or that contractors were to blame.
In July 2021, Pacesetter added Duaco Construction Inc. to the lawsuit in a third party claim, stating that Duaco was responsible for the framing and construction of the bridge. The court document alleged that Duaco failed to properly secure the bridge and exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence.
Pacesetter also added the City of Regina as a third party, but later dropped the action in May 2022 “at no cost” and “pursuant to an agreement between the parties.”
The City of Regina would not disclose the terms of this agreement or whether it involved a financial settlement.
The City of Regina would not comment on the matter or provide permit information. The manager of Pacesetter Homes Regina said he could not comment while the case was in court. Calls and emails to Duaco Construction have not been returned. The company has not yet filed a defense.
Khandehroo said his wife was traumatized by the fall and decided to move to Toronto when their twin sons were accepted to McMaster University. He now lives alone in the house.
The professor loves his job teaching at the University of Regina, but says he’s tired of living alone in the city. His wife will not return due to “horrible memories”, he said.
He wants resolution and some form of recognition.
“We felt like we weren’t important. What happened wasn’t important to anyone. And I feel like nobody cares about us,” he said.