Tuesday, August 16, 2011

State Fair Commission Retains Engineering Firm To Investigate Stage Rigging Collapse

Indiana State Fair officials are conducting a live press conference as I write announcing the hiring of Thornton Tomasetti, an internationally recognized structural engineering firm, to investigate the collapse of grandstand stage rigging equipment for Saturday night's Sugarland concert that left 5 persons dead and injured more than 40 others. State Fair Commission Chairman Andre Lacy made the announcement. A spokesman for Thornton Tomasetti provided no definite timeline at this point for completing the investigation.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, who originally blamed the stage rigging collapse on a freak of Mother Nature, earlier told reporters that he was surprised to learn that temporary structures like that used for the concert was not subject to inspection by state or local officials, indicating he would support a change in the law to address a hole in the law. Lacy also told reporters there will be an independent investigation of fair officials' decision not to cancel the concert and order an evacuation after being apprised of the approaching severe storm by the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

Reporters are peppering Indiana State Fair Director Andy Klotz concerning the failure of state fair personnel to order an evacuation. Klotz became quite defensive and emphasized that concert goers were given instructions about where to seek cover, and fair officials were in the process of dispatching a person to the stage to order an evacuation when the wind gusts hit the stage rigging toppling it onto persons seated in the VIP seating area on the track. Klotz just ended the increasingly intense questioning and concluded the press conference.


IndyIndie said...

I'm surprised that Thornton Tomasetti would be hired after the fiasco with the Central Library, a case I believe they are still litigating. http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/08110608jgb.pdf

Indy Rob said...

Oh geez, what a lawyer fest.
possible causes of the stage rigging collapse
1) the manufacturer did not specify a maximum safe wind load or was otherwise deficient in design. (Of course, there was probably a documented limit).
2) the stage riggers did not install the rigging per manufacturer specifications (Of course, the installers had setup and taken down this rig multiple times, and most likely had a checklist for the installation).
3) the backdrop was not accounted for in determining safe wind load (pretty likely as these are added per performers instructions and added after the manufacturer calculated maximum wind load and installation instructions).
4) the promoters (state fair board) failed to recognize the danger from the storm and its high wind speeds (maybe the storm occurred faster than predicted or the winds were more intense).
5) maybe a combination of any of the above
6) collapse may not have been predictable.

Sorry, but the cause is that the storm blew the structure down. The real question is whether or not the collapse was predictable,could have been avoided, or could have occurred with no loss of life.

Gary R. Welsh said...

If you want to deflect attention away from state fair officials, the best way to do it is to show the stage rigging was defective or erected below industry standards. Plaintiffs attorneys will love that because they can recover more from the stage operator than they can recover from the state in a tort action.