Melrose man dies in porch collapse

A 78-year-old Melrose man died this afternoon after the porch he was repairing at his home collapsed on top of him, Melrose officials said.

George Carroll, of 21 Bow St., was working with his son today when the 20-foot-by-20-foot platform, elevated about 6 feet off the ground, came down and pinned him, Melrose Fire Chief John J. O’Brien said in a phone interview. Shortly after the 1 p.m. collapse, firefighters arrived, and using inflatable airbags and levers, freed Carroll, O’Brien said.

Carroll was transported to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Bob Avola, 51, who lives two houses away, said that despite Carroll’s age, he was handy and able-bodied. Avola said he heard sirens approaching and looked out a window to see a pair of legs protruding from the collapsed porch.

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“I’m still getting that picture in my head, of him lying underneath it,’’ said Avola, speaking from his driveway. “There was no space. It was right on top of him.’’

Carroll’s wife, who was at home during the accident, appeared to be in shock and was taken to the hospital with her husband, Avola, said.

The porch, framed in heavy timber, protruded from the back of the home and had only two support legs, Avola said.

At the time of the accident, Carroll was working with his son, George Jr., according to Avola. The pair was attempting to jack up the deck to level it, he said.

Paul E. Johnson, the Melrose building commissioner, was on scene shortly after the collapse to examine the damage, O’Brien said.

Johnson said it was unclear today if the structure was up to code.

“It was an old deck,’’ Johnson said. “At the department, we always stress that professionals should do things. But right now, our thoughts are with the family.’’