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UNPRECEDENTED IDIOCY – Shelby Stage Collapse Organizer Says ‘Safety Protocol Was Followed’

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

This article shot me out of bed like a cannon.  Bobby McLamb, the promoter for this potential death machine, says that the rig that tumbled last weekend in Shelby, North Carolina followed safety protocols, and that L&N Productions out of Hickory used all “industry standard” practices.  The mainstream publications need to get ahold of me or another expert in the industry to put an end to this crap.  They are printing garbage that makes the promoter and L&N Productions look like they did no wrong!!!

Get a load of this, from the Charlotte Observer:

The event in Shelby was part of the American Legion World Series concert series and featured three Christian rock bands, including the headliner, the top-selling national group MercyMe.

Eddie Holbrook, co-chair of the local American Legion World Series executive committee and a Cleveland County commissioner, said L&N Productions had worked last year’s Montgomery Gentry concert at the American Legion World series.

“They’ve been very satisfactory,” he said. “We’ve had no problem.”

Holbrook said performers and stage managers expressed no reservations about the stage.

Also, he said the weather had been a concern. Holbrook said officials had been tracking storms on weather radar.

A line of storms in the area of Greenville, S.C., appeared to be edging north of Shelby, he said.

When a severe weather alert for Cleveland County flashed on the radar, Holbrook said, “we immediately started getting people off stage.” The surrounding area with electrical equipment was also evacuated, he said.

The National Weather service had no reports of damaging wind gusts – 50 mph or stronger – in Cleveland County on Aug 10. But an automated weather station on the north side of Shelby measured a wind gust of about 35 mph between 3 and 4 p.m.

At the fairground, which is on the east side of Shelby, a “quick burst of vicious wind” got under the stage roof and “disassembled it,” Holbrook said.

Law enforcement and emergency personnel were already at the fairground. But thankfully, nobody got hurt, Holbrook said.

Looking back, “I don’t know of anything we would have done differently,” he said.

MUST this be posted again?!  Here’s one of the first pages of the Genie tower safety manual:

genie-tower-wind-safetyMore from the article at the Charlotte Observer — apparently L&N’s rig adheres to building codes, according to James Little of L&N Productions:

James Little, owner and president of L&N Productions, Inc., said the company has been in business more than 25 years, carries liability insurance and has done events all over the U.S. Local code officials aren’t required to inspect temporary stages, Little said, but some, like Hickory, do inspect the structures.

Wherever L&N sets up a stage “we adhere to building codes,” Little said. “Ultimately, people can be hurt, and you have to be cautious in what you do.”

In Shelby, Little said the fire marshal inspected the stage, which met industry standards and had been assembled by L&N employees and 30 members of the Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

The stage’s roof was held up by 12 18-foot-tall Genie Super Towers, not four as stated by some on the Internet, Little said. The towers were secured by straps tied to 4-foot metal stakes driven into the ground.

Wind bent the stakes, but didn’t pull them out of the ground, and all the straps held, he said.

According to Little, the roof shifted 10 feet and lodged against a lighting pole, about 5 feet above the stage. No musical instruments or electrical equipment were damaged, and 10 light bulbs out of 108 were broken, Little said. Although he doesn’t have a total damage estimate, he said six of the towers, valued at $3,000 each, are out of commission.

A spokesperson for the Genie lift company said the super towers aren’t designed to support structures like roofs.

But Little said what was used at the fairground wasn’t a load-bearing roof, but a stage cover, and that the towers weren’t supporting the entire rig. He said the Genies supported canvas and lights individually and that the practice was common in the industry.

WHY does the media keep posting this shit without getting ahold of one of us experts in the media?!

THIS is what happens when your rig is NOT UP TO INDUSTRY STANDARD SAFETY PRACTICES, LET ALONE EVEN FOLLOWING THE MANUAL ON THE GEAR YOU USE!  These photos are from L&N’s OWN WEBSITE!  Did the media not even do their research?!

GAH!  This is infuriating!  PLEASE, mainstream media, YOU ARE NOT EXPERTS LIKE WE ARE!  Start asking around!

MORE CONTRADICTION in the Shelby Stage Collapse – Weather, Equipment, NEGLIGENCE

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

I had to start an entirely new post for this information…  this all needs to be shared.  The original post is here, please share with your friends, family, and industry contacts.  Make SURE that you never go near a stage constructed like the ones you’ll see below, because your life depends on it.  Do the math here, folks — thousands of pounds of quickly moving metal and plastics versus your skin, bones, blood, and tissues.  Which do you think is going to win?  Your God will not protect you from faulty rigging, equipment installation, and malfeasant negligence.

Let’s take a look at some info from the contractor’s website, L&N Productions.  The proof of negligence is right there on the website, just thumb through the photos.  James and John Little, along with production manager Mark Doran, showcase several images on their website of past gigs they’ve done — and this interesting little blurb on their website homepage:

“L & N Productions has operated in it’s current form since 1992 and is fully covered by General Liability & Workman’s Compensation.  Our professional and personable staff prides itself in providing high quality sound and lighting, helping to make your event a success. We specialize in festival style events, focusing on smooth transactions and attention to detail. We keep your artists satisfied and your event on schedule. We are there for you!”

Do you think that they’d still be covered under General Liability and Workman’s Comp if the people who administer those coverages knew they were using equipment in this fashion, AGAINST the manufacturer’s recommendations?  Very fortunately for L&N Productions, they haven’t had a collapse in the past.  Take a look through these images, tell me what YOU think.

Yes, that roof is being held up with spansets, and the yellow strap looks suspiciously like truck ratchet strap.  Are those towers just sitting in the grass with NOTHING under the WHEELS?!  YES, yes they are.

from-L-N-Productions-website-10

More Genie tower roofing OUTSIDE, with yellow truck strap guy wires.

from-L-N-Productions-website-9

Another shot of the OUTDOOR Genie tower rig.  YOU ARE NOT TO USE GENIE TOWERS OUTDOORS!
Can they NOT read the safety guide?!

from-L-N-Productions-website-8

 Please note the spansets holding up the sail – or roof, depending on your level of expertise.
WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS???

from-L-N-Productions-website-7

This one scares the shit out of me — triangle truss “propping up” the tarp roof, not at all secured to anything (take a look for yourself), with yellow truck strap guying, complete with the standard indoor Genie towers used outside.from-L-N-Productions-website-5

This shot should stop them from ever doing shows again — strap as guying on the front corners of the roof structure, cantilevered on four indoor Genie towers OUTSIDE, putting every person on that stage at risk.from-L-N-Productions-website-4

An indoor arena rig — straps on the PA.
WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS???from-L-N-Productions-website-3

More outdoor usage of INDOOR GENIE TOWERS.  AND, just sitting in the grass on the field, nothing under the wheels, AGAIN.
WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS???from-L-N-Productions-website-2

INDOOR Genie towers OUTSIDE again, and another INDOOR Genie tower holding up the OUTDOOR PA.from-L-N-productions-website-1

Something that is troubling the daylights out of me is the Genie towers used in these photos — they are not the SuperTower family of INDOOR Genie lifts, they are CONTRACTOR GENIE LIFTS with a working load limit of 650 pounds.  Check out the images below of CONTRACTOR TOWERS, and compare them with the crank towers you see in the photos above:

contractor-genie-2

contractor-genie

These images below here are Genie’s SuperTower (ST) brand of towers, which are the approved INDOOR TOWERS for entertainment:

Genie-Super-Tower

Genie-SuperTower

Notice anything different?  SuperTowers have heavier telescoping tracks, more sturdy outriggers, and ARE FOR ENTERTAINMENT.  The ones used by L&N Productions are CONTRACTOR TOWERS.

Here’s another thing that needs to be put out there… the promoter’s claim that the weather caused the accident are FALSE.  That means they are NOT TRUE.  Here’s why – fellow blogger, lighting expert, and storm chaser John Huntington posted an AWESOME contradiction to the claims that weather had anything to do with this collapse.  My guess is that the promoter and the production company are covering each other’s collective asses.  From John Huntington’s excellent blog Control Geek:

Annotated-mercyme-weather

According to Wikipedia, EHO is the Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport, and the Cleveland county fairgrounds are a couple miles away to the north east, about the position of my crude red arrow.   The light blue, bowing north-south line to the left of the purple arrow is a gust front or outflow boundary, generally caused by cool air descending from the storm and indicated on radar by reflections from bugs and dirt in front of the storm.  Crucially, this gust front arrives with high wind gusts before the rain arrives (this is exactly the same situation found at the Indiana State Fair tragedy; you can see my radar loop here).  So if you just watch the radar on a crude phone app and don’t know what to look for, you might miss this critical feature.  But it’s an indication of high winds in front of the storm (as a chaser I’m often surfing this area trying to get a photo, since sometimes an amazing looking shelf cloud forms is in that area, see here for photos from a similar event from earlier this summer).  Here’s the whole loop of the radar, and it’s pretty obvious that something’s coming for quite a long time.  The yellow arrow is the approximate location of the show site; with my mouse, I point out the gust front:

ClevelandCounty2013 from John Huntington on Vimeo.

While another part of the same storm system was under a severe thunderstorm warning (60 MPH+ wind) at the time of the collapse, the show site area apparently was not. Patrick Moore, of the National Weather Service saidthat winds at the site gusted to about 35-40MPH (well below the severe threshold), which should not cause any quality stage roof to collapse.  But, as I noted in the previous entry, it appears that the stage roof was supported with Genie-style towers.  Those are chronically mis-used pieces of gear, and one of the common failings in amateur outdoor usage of these lifts is not accommodating for the intensity of lateral loads caused by the winds, nor the vertical lift possibilities.  Joel Bench, MercyMe’s stage manager, reported “The wind just picked up, the roof lifted a little bit, Then it started tilting and just kind of eased down.”

Thank you for this insight, John.  Folks, make sure to check out John Huntington’s blog, he is a very intelligent dude.  Also, check out Erich Friend’s post on the accident for some excellent insight and video content — Erich runs the Theatre Safety Blog, which is an excellent source for all things event safety.

Please share this with your people.  Stay safe out there, everybody.  I think the Event Safety Alliance needs to be all over this guy’s company.

A Grim Reminder of the Latest Deaths in Our Beloved Industry Before Summer Work Kicks Off

indiana-state-fair-collapse-falling

HEY!  YOU! 

You there, with the rigging bag.

You there, with the crescent wrench and fearless attitude.

You there, sporting the “supervisor” face but looking at your cell phone when motors are moving.

You there, new guy and new girl, who are googly-eyed at the awesomeness but should be watching their own backs and paying attention to the work.

The summer season of outdoor music and theatre has started, and no matter if you’re doing corporate shows, theatre, music, or art production, this post needs to serve as a reminder.  Along with orgs like PLASA and the Event Safety Alliance, JimOnLight.com is doing everything they can to NOT have a summer like the last few we’ve had – and what I can do is provide a reminder of the hell that we as an industry have seen, not to mention the families of those killed in these accidents and disasters lately.  If I might reiterate, what we do is entertainment; it may pay the bills, but if you see something less than safe happening or took place in putting something together that you might not feel 100% about once it was finished, SPEAK UP NOW!

YOUR DUTY:  It is your duty to the safety of others and your own personal safety to keep your head in the game once you are onsite.  This includes WEATHER concerns, Safety concerns,

To address an email I got from a guy out there who prefers to remain anonymous out there, who asked me what would happen if a person got fired for refusing to do something unsafe.  My response was something along the lines of:

  1. You are probably working for a company that is a time bomb of fail waiting to happen — don’t be the fuse, and don’t feel bad about not wanting to die at work.
  2. Regardless of Fact #1, you should probably consult an attorney before you go thermonuclear.  Most attorneys do so for free.
  3. Call people like OSHA, PLASA, USITT, anyone you can think of if something shady is going on.  So you lose your job – don’t for a second think that the industry won’t be behind you for saving lives.
  4. You can file unemployment in a case like that – a company doing shady safety work will sooner than later be discovered, it would not be in their interest to fight your claim.  But, your mileage may vary, and frankly, some people have better luck than others in life at these things.
  5. Feel good that you aren’t in that situation anymore, and get right back out there and find another gig if you lose yours.  Do the right thing.  Having deaths on your conscience is good for no human, no matter how little of a part you played in the process.

That’s my opinion, anyway.  That’s what I’d do.  An industry that won’t take care of people who keep it safe is not an industry anyone should participate in, regardless of the possible profits.  Money is less valuable than lives.

Here’s a reminder of sacrifices have been made to further the standardization of safety in our business – please forgive me if I overlooked one close to you, all you have to do is email me and I will append this post.

APRIL 5, 2013: 
RIGGERS, TAKE HEED:  Houston Dean Williams slipped and fell to the stage floor while moving around a beam in San Antonio at the AT&T Center.

RIGGERS-NOT-SKYDIVERS

MAY 6, 2013:
A man was killed when a PA stack fell on him
at a protest rally in Moscow.

russia-man-killed-protest

APRIL 17, 2013:
Boston Marathon Bombings claim the lives of three marathongoers, wounding several dozens.  Let’s not forget, this was at an entertainment function.

Boston Marathon Explosions TOPIX

March 15, 2013:
A video wall came apart and fell on stage hands
in Miami for Ultra Music Festival.  No one killed, fortunately, but several people were hurt.

ultra-music-festival-accident

June 16, 2012:
1 dead, 3 wounded at a Radiohead concert in Toronto, Ontario
.

radiohead-stage-collapse-toronto

December 15, 2011:
1 person was killed and 8 people injured when truss collapsed
in Trieste, Italy at a Jovanotti concert.

trieste-jovanotti-collapse

August 19, 2011:
5 people killed and 70+ injured when a storm blew over a stage
at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium.

pukkelpop-collapse-5

Perhaps the worst of them all lately…  August 15, 2011:
At the Sugarland show at the Indiana State Fair, a storm blew over an outdoor stage loaded with audio and lighting truss, killing 7 people and injuring 58.

indiana-state-fair-collapse-falling

May 13, 2010:
A young lighting tech in West Palm Beach fell to his death from a catwalk while working on a show.

andy-hollingsworth1.jpg

July 27, 2009:
A Pepsi Battle of the Bands in Guangzhou, China experiences a huge, sudden storm that tips over LED screens and injures several dozen.  Reports of people killed were removed from the web, so I think it’s fair that we can assume several people died in this accident.

pepsi-battle-of-the-bands-accident

July 16, 2009:
At a Marseilles, France tour stop for Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour, a stage roof collapsed, killing 2 stage hands involved in the load-in.

madonna-stage-collapse1.jpg

Let’s also never forget the Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake truss collapse in August 2003:

timberlake11.jpg

Just don’t forget.  Also, don’t forget that you are responsible for yourself out there, and when you’re putting equipment together, keep in mind that your diligence will mean the difference between you and others going home on the bus and going home in the ambulance – or even worse, getting a ride home with the coroner.

Be safe out there, Road Warriors!

 

$300,000 to Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Victims

Yeah, it’s not any easier to see.

Did you know that by law in the State of Indiana, the State cannot pay out more than five million dollars for one single tragedy, and it can pay no single victim more than $700,000?!  Ah, legislation.  If you can’t solve a problem, screw the constituents and remove the State of all fault.  That’s the Corporate way.

My source in Indiana says that all of the wreckage has been moved to a warehouse somewhere for “further study,” and that there’s a news story on every night or every few nights about how a reimbursement deadline has passed, or some other nightmare part of this mess has happened.  We’ve just come across a story here about how today is the last day for reimbursement deadlines if you’re taking the state’s offer of $300,000 for a death in this collapse.  A lot of people seem to think that $300,000 is a pretty rough lowball estimate on what their loss of life is worth.  Some people received just a small amount of money for injury, and some received a lot more – like a 17-year-old victim who is now paralyzed from the waist down.  He’s getting just $182,000 and change extra for his expenses.  He is paralyzed from the waist down.  Forever.  Not just until the just under $500,000 he’s being given runs out.   He’s paralyzed forever.  I guess he’s lucky that he’s not dead.  Life’s not getting in his way though – check out this article on how he’s doing, as he just learned to ski without the use of his legs.  Kinda awesome.

Somewhat of a schedule of payments was posted in an article at the Indy Star:

Families of each of the seven people who were killed will receive at least $300,000.

Surviving victims with physical injuries will get compensation for 65 percent of the medical expenses they accrued through Nov. 15.

A 17-year-old who is permanently paralyzed will receive an additional $182,476 for extra medical expenses.

All told, 65 victims — or families of Sugarland concertgoers who died — will receive state money, with payouts ranging from $109 to $503,042.

What gets left out? Future medical expenses and any expenses for psychological treatment.

Feinberg said the victims “have legitimate concerns about the amounts” they will receive, but he praised Zoeller for achieving, “with fingers crossed, (a) general consensus as to how the money should be allocated.”

However, that “consensus” doesn’t satisfy Kenneth J. Allen, the Valparaiso-based attorney who has already filed a lawsuit over the $5 million liability cap and the way the money is being handed out.

Allen, who represents six victims of the stage-rigging collapse, on Tuesday called the procedure “rash and not well-thought-out . . . just like the planning for the fair.”

This is a pretty ugly situation still, and I can only speculate that it will be one for a long, long time to come.  Right now, payouts for medical expenses stop for anything that happened after November 15, 2011.  So what happens if all of the medical expenses don’t stop for this thing until a year from now?  What if you’re paralyzed from the waist down forever?

You’ll be happy to know that truss collapse survivor and IATSE #30 member Steve Stover is alive and well, having had his entire face reconstructed.  As you can imagine, he’s slowly recovering and working through everything he’s experienced and survived.  Obviously he’s one of the lucky ones, being still alive and being mobile.

You know what makes me want to hurl about this whole thing?  All of the news is now about how the money is being doled out, or how the tort payments law in Indiana is unfair, or how “we need to revisit the law.”  People are dead.  There is a transparency that has been masked by the need to sink teeth into the money aspect of the incident, the need to get the restitution that I know I would feel if I were in any of these victims’ situations.  I didn’t want to be right about this, I wanted this one to be different.

Some additional linkage for this mess:

Talk about hindsight biting you directly on the tukkus – an executive from WLHK-FM came onstage right before the storm hit and gave a weather announcement.  Watch the video, read the transcript:

WLHK-FM (97.1) executive Bob Richards spoke on behalf of fair executive director Cindy Hoye and State Police Captain Brad Weaver.

Richards spoke for 55 seconds, and the statement is transcribed here:

“Good evening.  How are you?”
(cheers in crowd)
“As you can see to the west, there are some clouds.  We are all hoping for the best — that the weather is going to bypass us.  But there is a very good chance that it won’t.  So just a quick heads-up before the show starts:
If there is a point during the show where we have to stop the show onstage, what we’d like to have you do is calmly move toward the exits and then head across the street to either the Champions Pavilion, the Blue Ribbon Pavilion or the Pepsi Coliseum.  And then, once the storm passes and everything’s safe, we’re going to try our best to come back and resume the show — which we have every belief that that’s going to happen.”
(cheers in crowd)
“So please get ready, because in just a couple of minutes we’re going to try to get Sugarland onstage. Have a great show.”

Indiana State Fair Collapse Update – 6th Death Reported

A sixth person has been reported as dying from injuries sustained at the Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair this last week.  From the AP Wire:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Family members say a 22-year-old college student is the sixth person to die from injuries suffered when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair last weekend.

Along with several people who died immediately, at least four dozen were injured when a strong wind gust toppled the metal scaffolding holding lights and other equipment and sent it plunging into fans awaiting a concert by the country group Sugarland.

The Star Press first reported 22-year-old Jennifer Haskell died Friday morning at a hospital in Indianapolis. Her uncle, Mike Whited, announced her death in a statement later Friday.

Haskell was entering her senior year at Ball State University, where she was studying sports medicine

State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz tells WTHR-TV the fair expresses “its deepest sympathies to her family.”

JimOnLight.com and all of our team wish the family of Jennifer Haskell, Steve Stover (survivor), and Nathan Byrd the best thoughts and prayers, and all people killed and hurt in this nightmare to heal and move on with as little pain as possible.  We know that’s a feeble hope, but we want peace and closure for everyone.

Madonna Roof Collapse News – Two People Dead

First, before any of this news gets read, my thoughts and condolences go out to the families of 23 year old Charles Prow and 53 year old Charles Criscenzo, the two technicians killed so far in the Madonna roof collapse that took place on Thursday – my wife posted the initial article on Thursday.  Reports are sketchy as to the number of injured, but I have read that it’s between five and eleven serious injuries and 35 to 45 shock and minor injuries.  I hope they all recover quickly.

Here’s what I know so far – a roof structure on Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet Tour at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, France collapsed.  Obviously there is an investigation on this tragedy, but the buzz being ported around is that a crane hoisting the roof also failed, apparently while it was being hoisted up.  The city councilman Maurice Di Nocera said that the roof structure on the stage “started shaking and collapsing” gradually.

I hate this kind of news.  I’d much rather talk about pretty much anything other than people getting hurt and killed while trying to install entertainment.

Just a common sense reminder for anyone working with any kind of lighting gear (or any kind of gear period), no matter how expensive – if you’re about to be in a situation where gear is going to be damaged and you could be hurt, get out of that situation right away.  Equipment is insured and can be replaced or sent to the shop.  Your precious life cannot be benched.  I would bet a kidney that any manufacturer or supplier out there would rather see damaged gear than attend a funeral any day.

I have a little bit of video on this tragedy – one from the BBC, and another from YouTube.

The company hired to put this rig up was ES Group out of London.

What Seems Like Ancient History: The Justin Timberlake/Christina Aguilera Truss Collapse

This Madonna thing has got me thinking about the older truss collapses that have happened in the past – even though nothing really bad has been confirmed yet with the Madonna thing.  For those of you who read this blog and do not come in contact with regular amounts of lighting and rigging gear, the pictures below are what happens sometimes when rigging gear fails while loaded down with lighting gear…

In 2003 in Atlantic City, NJ at the Boardwalk Hall, the Justin Timberlake/Christina Aguilera show that was close to soundcheck underwent a major catastrophic failure of the venue’s supertruss.  The show’s systems, which were rigged to that truss, rode it down to the ground and smashed nearly every bit of the show’s gear.  A few people were hurt, but only minor injuries were sustained (from what I understand), but the show’s gear was a major failure.

Here’s some shots of the disaster.  Next time you’re at a show, remember that the people who’ve rigged this stuff above you are professionals, and be glad that they are.