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Building code violations unlikely at Las Margaritas as drowning investigation continues

It’s been two days since 24-year-old Cole Bradley drowned in a Columbia lake. Troopers say Bradley climbed over the railing at Las Margaritas, jumped into the lake and attempted to swim to a fountain.

His body was recovered Saturday after a lengthy search, but this evening, questions still remain unanswered.

As for whether Las Margaritas may have violated any building codes, authorities say that’s unlikely.

“There’s definitely a guard there, it looks fairly new, so there’s no obvious violation,” Shane Creech, Building and Site Development Manager for the City of Columbia tells ABC 17 News, adding that his crews haven’t been out since the accident, but he has seen pictures of the restaurant.

The city requires building handrails to be a minimum of three feet tall, and that code has been in place since the 1960’s. There are also specifications about how far apart the vertical slats in the rail can be.

“If you read the code it talks about how a four inch ball can’t fit through any location…they used to allow the bars to be horizontal instead of vertical. So in certain instances you could see where if you had a small child…could climb that,” Creech explains.

Every three years, the Building Construction Codes Committee examines the new codes from the International Code Commission. They then present their recommendations to the Columbia City Council.

One commission members says buildings in Columbia are far more up to code–and theoretically much safe–than other buildings across Missouri.

“We just adopted 2015 code, okay. There’s a lot of areas in the state that are still back in 03 or 06. I just built a house over in Fulton–they’re still under 2006 code,” John Page with the Building Construction Codes Committee explains.

While Saturday’s incident was a tragedy, experts don’t expect the handrail codes to change.

“If somebody wants to get up on a chair and climb on top of it, they’re going to do it,” Page says, adding that safety is always a builder’s biggest concern but they can’t always prevent accidents like this.

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