Summer concert season is upon us, which means that a lot of people will be seeing shows by their favorite bands in unusual venues. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that stages are erected so quickly that there isn’t always a great deal of time to double- and triple-check to ensure that all safety regulations have been met. To wit, a massive section of the stage collapsed at Toronto’s Downsview Park Saturday afternoon ahead of Radiohead‘s sold-out show there, killing Radiohead’s drum tech, Scott Johnson, and injuring three other crew members. It’s not yet clear exactly what happened, but the Ontario Ministry of Labor will investigate the collapse to see that safety regulations and standards were followed and that staff were probably trained.
Radiohead drummer Philip Selway paid tribute to Johnson on the band’s website. “We have all been shattered by the loss of Scott Johnson, our friend and colleague,” he wrote. “He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew. We will miss him very much. Our thoughts and love are with Scott’s family and all those close to him.”
Three people have been confirmed dead and over seventy injured after a severe storm hit the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium, toppling trees and causing at least one of the stages to collapse. The Associated Press reports that many of the approximately 60,000 attendees fled the open-air festival in the face of high winds and hailstones approaching half an inch in diameter and high winds. Today was the first of the planned three-day festival (featuring Foo Fighters, 30 Seconds to Mars, Eminem, and others), which has been put on hold until further notice.
This news comes just five days after a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, killing five and injuring forty prior to a Sugarland concert. Today’s storm was by all accounts a more serious one than those that have caused collapses in Indiana, Ottawa, and Tulsa, but may point to the same concerns about outdoor stage safety that have been raised in the last few days.
Our thoughts go out to the families of those who were killed.
Our thoughts and condolences are with the families of the five deceased: Glenn Goodrich, who was working security, and allegedly saved two others from the collapse; lighting operator Nathan Byrd; and three fans: Alina Bigjohny, Tammy Vandam, and Christina Santiago. Sugarland’s opening act Sara Bareilles also released a statement, calling the “horribly tragic” collapse an “accident,” and pledging that she and her staff would “do whatever we possibly can to help heal the hurt from this very sad day.”
As we noted when the story first broke, this is the third collapse that has occurred on a temporary stage due to high wind preceding a thunderstorm. The Indiana State Fair received notice of the National Weather Service’s storm warning five minutes before the collapse, which despite what is reported to have been an efficient response, was obviously simply not enough time.
We are not meteorologists, but three collapses within a month due to flash thunderstorms during the peak of the Atlantic’s tropical storm season seems like either a remarkable coincidence or a series of occurrences for which better preparations ought to have been made. We are not, mind you, suggesting negligence, but rather that safety standards for temporary stages may need an upgrade (and if so, we hope that happens soon, and we wish it had happened before anyone was killed).
UPDATE (8/14/11 @ 1:00 p.m.): WTHR has reported that a fifth person has been confirmed dead. [WTHR]
UPDATE (11:43 p.m.): WTHR is now reporting that four people are confirmed deceased, and another 46 injured. [@breakingnews]
Tonight, Indianapolis’ NBC affiliate WTHR is reporting that four three people were killed and dozens more injured when the stage collapsed moments before country superstars Sugarland were scheduled to perform in concert at the Indiana State Fair. A wind shear is believed to have been the cause of collapse of the stage rigging, which fell onto concertgoers standing in the “Sugarpit,” an area filled with the band’s most rabid fans. Amateur video of the stage collapsing was posted to YouTube; we have the disturbing footage for you above.
We are all right after our stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair tonight. Many of our fans and friends in Indianapolis may not be. Please keep them in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever form of strength you are able to send. They need you. Thank you.