Five people died earlier this week when the rigging of an outdoor stage collapsed. The accident happened at a state fair outside New York, but one of the women killed was from New York. More than 45 people were injured, and many of the injured people are still fighting with serious injuries.
Some commentators speculated that the way the rigging was erected and officials’ negligence in failing to act promptly to high wind warnings may have caused the venue to become dangerous property. At least one family of a deceased victim is working to file a premises liability and wrongful death lawsuit.
Investigators are trying to pinpoint the cause of the collapse. Authorities noted that a focused windstorm with speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour struck the stage before the collapse. Some criticized concert management for not canceling or postponing the show. Many people have said authorities should have evacuated the 12,000 people in the crowd when they learned about the impending weather conditions and high winds.
There is camera footage of the accident. The footage shows stage crew members, who were above the concert stage, falling onto members of the crowd, along with portions of the rigging.
Despite some news reports that described the deaths and injuries as the result of a stage collapse, the concrete surface stage itself was undamaged. Rather, what collapsed were audio speaker mounts, lighting supports and rigging. This occurred after portions of a canopy were suddenly struck by the high-speed wind and torn.
Most of those killed or injured were close to the stage, in a special section reserved for favored fans of the band. After the accident, concertgoers remained at the scene to help pull injured people from underneath the collapsed rigging and equipment.
Source: New York Times, “Fair Officials Defend Moves Before Deadly Storm Struck,” Monica Davey, Aug. 15, 2011