Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Failure To Warn?

Fox 59 News' Jake Miller has video taken at the Indiana State Fair grandstand just four minutes before the wind gusts toppled the stage rigging that killed five persons and injured more than 40 others waiting for the start of Sugarland's concert. The announcer tells the audience Sugarland will take the stage in just two minutes as the camera recording his words pans to the northwest to show the ominous dark clouds approaching the state fairgrounds. Of course, Sugarland never stepped foot on the stage and most persons remained in their seats in anticipation of the concert's start, nothwithstanding the visibly approaching storm.

UPDATE: It looks like the stage rigging for Illinois' state fair grandstand stage does something Indiana's stage rigging does not do. Follow this link here and you will see how their covered canopy can be lowered when the winds are too high. Indeed, that's exactly what Illinois State Fair officials did last Saturday afternoon before the severe storms rolled into Indianapolis. This story in the Springfield Journal-Register discusses the precautions Illinois State Fair officials took:

The overhead rigging at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand stage can be lowered during times of inclement weather.
Saturday afternoon, for example, the rigging was lowered when the fair received a report that a storm was heading toward Springfield that had the potential for 60 mph winds.
Fair officials also shut down the carnival and told people over the public address system to seek cover in a building.
“When we heard there was a potential for 60 mph winds, we didn’t take any chances. We closed everything down,” Bliefnick said.
The fairgrounds only saw rainfall when the storm passed. . .
Clay Campbell, president of Triangle Talent, the booking and production agent for the fair, said that, in addition to being able to lower the rigging, employees keep a close eye on how much weight the acts propose to hang from the rigging.
“The guide wires are checked every day, and the feet of the tower are checked every day,” Campbell said.
Like Saxe, Beason resident Darwin Rademaker said the Indiana tragedy won’t deter him from attending shows at the Illinois State Fair.
“It was areak thing,” Rademaker said. “A storm brewed up, and, unfortunately, what happened happened. I don’t see anything like that happening here.”

Illinois State Fair Grandstand Stage Rigging by Mason Sound


Marycatherine Barton said...

In my humble opinion (and I am guessing most others in the USA}, the correct answer to the question under the video is: NO. Thank God Almighty, Sugarland was not on that stage!!

It is wonderful that both it and other bands that originally were scheduled to play at the Fairgrounds, have announced that all the proceeds from one of their concerts will be donated to an Indiana State Fair victims' compensation fund.

BloggerBill said...

No one has yet to point out the obvious....what were fair officials going to do with spectators on the track with visible lightning and audible thunder present??? THAT should have been enough warning to at least clear the track area. For instance schools have strict guidelines regarding lightning and thunder during athletic events so that spectators and athletes are not struck by lightning.

If fair officials would have heeded the lightning and thunder in the area, they would not have had to make a split second decision based on storm warnings, wind, etc. Mother nature seems to have her own good warning system in place.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's worth pointing out that the large midway rides had been shut down due to lightning in the area before the tragedy occurred. Not sure why there wouldn't have been a similar concern for people exposed in front of the stage.

Jeff Cox said...

If I'm a lawyer for the state fair, I counter with the video you showed last Sunday that had a voice from a loudspeaker bellowing, "Clear the area."

The rides would have had a different threshold for shutdown than the stage did. The rides are often taller and less stable because of their higher center of mass. Besides, the rides are, well, rides. No one was riding the stage.

Most athletic events do have strict rules for suspension of activities in case of lightning. Most such events also have fans, who usually do not like these policies, sitting in electricity-conducting metal bleachers.

Just saying. This incident is very ambiguous as to causation and responsibility, if any.

Cato said...

Damn, Cox, I hope you don't take a case representing the State Fair in suing the crushed for denting the stage roof with their heads.

There's really nothing unclear about this case.

Jeff Cox said...

So, Cato, in your view every time someone is hurt or something is damaged, someone (usually someone else) must be at fault and must therefore pay?