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We Should Be Sick Of This Shit By Now – Thoughts on the Death of Sarah Jones

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I have gotten two messages now asking me why I hadn’t commented on the death of Sarah Jones.  Sarah was the camera crewwoman struck by the train outside of Doctortown, Georgia on February 20 during the filming of Midnight Rider, and her death is opening up all kinds of those “oh, well holy shit, there weren’t permits” barrels of monkeys that you would assume would be opened when someone is tragically killed.

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This is Joyce Gilliard, she was a hairdresser on the film.  She was almost killed in the train bridge, too.  She had her arm snapped in half by the train, and then fell onto some steel cables under the tressel.

Well folks, I have only one real answer to why.  It’s simple.  Researching death and disasters and accidents where people were ripped limb from limb or fell 100 feet onto a concrete floor or had thousands of pounds of rig fall on them from trim height at a fairthis kind of stuff makes me hurt inside.  I needed a break.  It sucks looking up these kinds of facts, learning about so-and-so-who-was-up-and-coming-in-their-field because the next time, it’s going to be another so-and-so-rising-star with a different name that will have an equally gut-wrenching, tear-pulling story.  This shit gets old, let me be the first to tell you.  Researching the disaster at the Indiana State Fair truly made me sob a few times, it’s hard to hear those stories and write those words.

Here is the part where I comment organizations like the Event Safety Alliance for doing what they do, which is trying to stop this nightmarish stuff from happening in the first place.

As a whole, we are an industry that waits until stuff gets really broken before we fix it, and usually the fix comes either after a death, series of deaths, or a majorly serious catastrophe like the Indiana State Fair disaster or the Radiohead stage collapse.  Suck it up, haters, it’s a fact.  Most industries are, ours is no different until we make it so.

Why is it though that people generally wait so long to act on potential items of aggravated disaster?  There are really too many questions that need answered here to be done in a human lifetime – why do companies who were previously denied access to film on a train bridge get caught filming on that bridge, ultimately causing deaths?  Why  Is it the cost of doing things safely?  You have to admit, we persist and thrive in a relatively dangerous environment with myriad variables all having a potential for a seriously negative outcome.  What we do in Entertainment can sometimes be one of the most potentially hazardous environments there is due to the nature of what we do and what we make — doesn’t that alone demand that we follow every procedure, every line item, every method possible, EVERY TIME to save the lives of our people, our brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives who make the stuff the producers and executives make shit tons of money selling?

Here’s what I know in my heart:  this stuff that we do, that we love, that we love to love and hate all at the same time — our work has ZERO worth when it has to be measured in the number of lives it took to make it.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to be concerned about your safety in this business.  I hope I’m not breaking the news to you now, but the people at the very top care about the money, not you.  There are more yous to do the job, ask any one of the thousands of unemployed entertainment techs out there.  Please though, remember that all of this is just entertainment, it’s just business.  When you get killed in an accident because you sacrificed yourself for the sake of the art, the people who paid for you to make the art are going to be sad for sure, but are still going to be sad all the way to the bank while they cash the checks you got for them with your life…

…and you won’t see a dime of that money because you’ll be dead.

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I’m sorry everybody, but I just don’t wanna write about this one.  This article is the authority on the subject so far that I have seen.

Another Structure Falls – Stage Roof Made from Genie Towers Collapses in North Carolina

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos (click for larger view)

UPDATE, Tuesday, August 13, 2013:
I have received some information that directly contradicts what the promoters of the American Legion event have publicly stated, which was covered in the news yesterday.  What I think sucks is that no outlets of mainstream identity will pick up the other side of this story, which is that professionals in the field who have years of experience and training have contradictory information that negates their weather claims.  Here’s what the promoters have stated – from an article at the Charlotte Observer, posted Sunday, August 11, 2013 – bolding is mine for informational emphasis:

The weather, not faulty construction, caused a stage to collapse at the Cleveland County fairgrounds on Saturday, an official with the American Legion, which was sponsoring the event, said Sunday.

MercyMe, a popular Christian band, was expected to perform in front of more than 10,000 fans Saturday night as part of American Legion’s World Series concerts, which lead up to the tournament that runs Aug. 16-20 in Shelby.

But the temporary stage collapsed about 4 p.m. during the band’s sound check. The audience had not begun to arrive, and no one was injured, said Eddie Holbrook, co-chair of the local American Legion World Series committee.

“We knew we were going to get what looked like scattered showers and nothing real bad,” Holbrook said. “Then all of a sudden, within a five-minute span, the winds shifted and immediately there was a severe weather storm alert.”

He added that the company that built the stage, L&N Productions, is “extremely reputable” and has worked on concerts for national artists across the Southeast.

“We didn’t have any concern whether these people had taken any shortcuts,” he said. “We’re attributing it all to the weather.”

Fans were not inside the fairgrounds at the time of the collapse because the gate and ticket sales office weren’t scheduled to open for another 30 minutes.

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos (click for larger view)

It should be painfully obvious in looking at those photos that weather was a minor (if not a negligable factor) in that stage coming down.

From an official who spoke with JimOnLight.com and was not authorized to speak publicly on the collapse, a touring professional involved with production and NOT associated with L&N Productions:

“The stage was down well before those alleged ’70 mph winds’ hit.  It didn’t take much to knock that thing over.  The roof was picked with spansets…not properly.  The up and down stage double hung was with what looked like truck straps.  The genies didn’t have outriggers – but just the stabilizers.  And the straps they had ‘holding it down’ didn’t make sense.  And, for the record, the seats they had set up were for about 2000-2500 tops. Not the 10,000 the news was reporting.”

The news will never tell you that the stage should never have been built outside with Genie towers.  The news will also never tell you that L&N Productions IS STILL DOING SHOWS, and has another one “just down the road from Shelby.”  Somehow I hope the entire production world learns to stay away from this company’s shows.  They have proven they have no respect for the safety of the crews, musical acts, and audience members.

Please, share the heck out of this, it’s important to get this contradicting information out there to counter the information being put out there.  The promoter may believe that L&N is “reputable,” but they are simply lucky that this hasn’t happened before if this is the rig they are using outside for events.  Genie towers should never be used like this.

I took some screenshots from the video posted from the local NBC affiliate, WCNC — watch the video, then look through the screenshots gallery below it.  Notice the spansets holding the roof structure onto the Genie towers, then ask yourself — WHERE are the outriggers on those towers?  Then maybe ask yourself — WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS ON THOSE GENIE TOWERS?!!  Are those SPANSETS holding the roof to the towers?!  Are those ratchet straps holding the roof down?  If you’re inquisitive like me, ask yourself one more question — were those ratchet straps holding those audio cabinets down on top of the scaffolding?


UPDATE, Monday, August 12, 2013:
The production company who believed this rig was safe was L&N Productions out of Hickory, NC – their website, http://www.landninc.com/, does not work.  Here’s their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/landninc


theafters-stage-collapse

That’s right, sports fans, there’s news of another structure collapse in the JimOnLight headlines this morning. No one was hurt at this religious concert festival at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in North Carolina, but this just goes to show you that not even God can help your production company when you use genie towers and ratchet straps outside to support the rig. If anyone knows who the production company was for this event, please let us know so that I can make sure that people know of their work.

From an article at WSOCTV:

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. —

A stage collapsed at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Saturday night.

No one was hurt in the collapse at the fairgrounds, but the accident is forcing organizers to make some big changes.

Just hours before a concert was set to start at the Cleveland County Fairground, a gust of wind ripped through, toppling a stage.

An organizer said it happened when the stands were still empty, and no one was hurt.

More than 10,000 people were expected to show up for the American Legion World Series concerts. Saturday’s lineup featured Christian artists, Mercy Me, Aaron Shust and the Afters. The show was cancelled Saturday.

Organizers said they did not want to take any chances with safety.

The wind ripped down part of the stage that held the overhead lighting and there was too much damage to fix before showtime.

The Afters tweeted a picture of the stage saying, “Scary moment today. The stage collapsed as we were sound checking. Thankful to God that we are all ok.”

Holy moly. From WISTV, a video of the newscast:

wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina |

Looks like it’s painfully obvious that the production company (still unknown at this point) didn’t read the first frigging page of the Genie Tower Safety Manual, I underlined the key components for you:

Do not operate the machine in strong or gusty winds. Increasing the load surface area will decrease machine stability in windy conditions. Do not leave a load raised when windy conditions may occur unless the machine(s) are properly guy-wired.

genie-tower-wind-safety

WHY OH WHY do people not understand BASIC PHYSICS?! When you add A SAIL to an already not strong structure, said structure IS COMING DOWN. More reason why we need to strengthen the rules in this industry — if for no other reason than to STOP the shitty companies from doing things that make us all look bad. This looks bad.

stage-collapse-after

More on this if and when it develops. No one was hurt, THIS time. The event was the American Legion World Series, featuring a bunch of Christian acts. So much for that. I guess not even God can keep up improperly installed equipment.

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stage-collapse-north-carolina

Ken Johnson, Father of Drum Tech Killed in Radiohead’s Stage Collapse in Toronto, Wants Answers

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hi-stage-radiohead-truong-8col

Just over a year ago, Scott Johnson was onstage under a massive roof structure in Toronto, Ontario tuning drums for Radiohead’s upcoming show that night.  This would be the last time he ever tuned the kit again, as later that afternoon the roof structure came tumbling down on top of Scott and three other people.  The others made it.  Scott Johnson was killed.

A year has passed, and Scott Johnson’s dad, Ken, is destroyed.  He’s also pissed at how long this is taking, getting some justice for his dead son — who was doing the one thing he loved to do more than anything.  All he wants is answers, but the Crown hasn’t any for him.  From an interview article at The Spec:

Ken has been searching for answers ever since, crying daily over the loss of his only child, waiting to hear who’s to blame.

The Ministry of Labour recently announced 13 charges against concert organizer Live Nation, a staging company, and an engineer.

A postponed trial is expected to begin Thursday.

“I want to be there,” said Ken, weeping over the phone. “I want to see the people involved and hear what they have to say.”

The charges include eight against Live Nation Canada Inc. and Live Nation Ontario Concerts GP Inc., under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The ministry alleges that Live Nation failed to ensure the stage was adequately designed and that every employer complied with the act.

Optex Staging & Services Inc. faces four charges, and engineer Domenic Cugliari is charged with endangering a worker, resulting from his advice or certification.

The maximum fine against a corporation, if convicted, is $500,000 per charge. Individuals face $25,000 per charge or up to a year in prison.

Ken Johnson, who works for a scaffolding safety association in England, is hoping the trial results in some “lessons” for those involved.

“Maybe people should have done some things differently,” he said. “Whatever the outcome of the trial, I just hope that it’s fair and honest.”

He said Scott was an honest, hard worker living his dream. Tuning drums for Radiohead was a pinnacle in his career, reached after years of determination.

“He always wanted to be a performer, but realized that wasn’t going to pan out,” said Ken, who used to cart his son around to perform small shows as a teen. “This was the next best thing.”

It breaks my heart to read of how this is going.  I know legal matters take time and accidents of this nature need investigated — but one has to wonder just exactly what is going to come of this, who is going to pay, and why.  “Scott’s message in life was to be fair, and none of this is fair,” said Ken Johnson, interviewed over the phone. “I still cry every day.”

Scott had been on the road with The Killers, the Australian Pink Floyd Show and Keane over the previous 8 years, taking on Radiohead in his career as the pinnacle of his performance.  Scott’s dad also talks about calling home once a week or more, spending time with his folks via Skype in his hotel room while on the road.

A memorial fund has been started for Scott Johnson that donates drum kits to students, along with other awesome positive acts for young musicians.  Visit the Scott Johnson Bursary Fund for Young Musicians.

scottdrumkit

 

radiohead-stage-collapse-CTV

Stage Collapse in Phuket, Thailand – One Dead, One Injured

Unfortunately, a stage roof has collapsed in Phuket, Thailand due to a huge windstorm that blew through and tipped over the stage.  From a post at English language station Phuket Wan:

PHUKET: Wild winds toppled part of the structure supporting the stage at Saphan Hin public park in Phuket City tonight, killing one person and injuring a second person.

The death occurred on the final night of the Phuket Prison Fair, at which furniture and other goods from jails across the south of Thailand are on sale.

Phuketwan carried a report earlier today warning of severe winds that ripped Phang Nga, tearing the roofs off at least 20 homes around Phang Nga Town.

The structure around the stage on Phuket toppled about 7.40pm on the final night of the fair.

Officials at the Phuket-based Southern Meteorological Centre (West Coast) were forecasting gusts of up to 60kmh and warning small boats to stay ashore tomorrow.

Predictions give Phuket a 60 percent chance of rain over the next few days. The weather is expected to worsen on Friday and Saturday.

So far Phuketwan is the only English-language news outlet to report the dangers posed by the severe weather and to record tonight’s death.

My guess is that no one planned on the storm happening, and there was definitely no safety officer on the scene to clear people out.

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Part of the larger stage, a green-room type tent covering:

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As quick as it went through, it was gone.

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No news yet on the actual number of injured, but the once person killed seems to be from a solid source across multiple outlets.

People, be careful out there.  Mother Nature doesn’t care where we decide to do a show, she’s coming whether we like it or not.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a concert or a jail show like this one — safety first, last, and always.

Radiohead Stage Collapse in Toronto — 1 Dead, 3 Wounded

Scroll down for updates, please.

Oh no, not again.

My buddy Elie sent me this link from CBC News.  Radiohead‘s stage collapsed this afternoon — CBC News reports that a person is dead and at least 3 others are injured.  Toronto Star is reporting that it’s one dead and one injured critically.  It’s nice and calm here in Toronto today, I doubt this was weather-related.  From CBC News:

A stage at Toronto’s Downsview Park has collapsed in advance of a scheduled Radiohead concert, killing one person and injuring at least three, according to Toronto EMS.

Calls came in to emergency crews at about 4 p.m. ET. One person was transported to Sunnybrook Hospital in serious condition while two others assessed at the scene have minor injuries.

CBC’s Maria Nunes was driving by the park when she noticed the commotion. From her vantage point. she could see five ambulances, two police cars and a firetruck.

The 7:30 p.m. concert is cancelled. Gates had been scheduled to open at 5 p.m.

Some people at the park ahead of the show are saying on Twitter that the area has been cleared by emergency crews.

Police say the park wasn’t full but there was a considerable crowd of people already waiting for the show, and they are now leaving the area. The park is a frequent site of concerts, and 40,000 people were expected for tonight’s sold-out show by the hugely popular English band. The opener was to be Canadian act Caribou.

The weather in Toronto at the time of the accident was seemingly calm, with temperatures in the high 20s and the forecast calling for light winds.

More as it develops.  Radiohead was playing at Downsview Park near downtown for the North by Northeast Festival.  They’ve since cancelled the show.

Somebody taped the news broadcast below:

Update, Saturday, 7:13pm Eastern:

Most reports are saying that one person was killed, and the consensus is either three wounded or “several” wounded.  I spoke with a friend who was heading down early to see the Flaming Lips show later in the evening, and she said that there are lots of folks heading away from the Downsview Park area.  Police are asking people not to head to the area so that everything can be secured and investigated.

Story at the Montreal Gazette
Story at the Globe and Mail
Story at the Guardian
Story at the Province
Story at Canada.com
Story at NowPublic

I’m so sorry to have to report of the injured and killed again.  That is my least favorite part of writing.

More as I find it.  I’m not sure if this is even the time to bring it up, but there’s a creep around the place that Radiohead is playing at Sneaky Pete’s tonight; something not a rumor is that all ticket holders are being refunded for the show.

From NowPublic:

Update, Sunday, June 17, 5:51pm:

CNN posted an aerial flyby and an article of the Toronto stage that came down yesterday.  See below:

Thanks, @mcpoley, for tweeting the link.

—————————————————————-
Update, Monday, June 18, 2012, 9:55am:

I have to report that the name of the one man killed has been released.  Radiohead (and Keane) drum tech Scott Johnson, 33, was killed by what investigators are calling “a heavy, crushing injury.”  I’m so sorry to have to report that.  Another industry veteran down.  Investigations are being called “fairly complex,” but none of the outside investigation parties are being named at this time.

From the Toronto Star:

The provincial Ministry of Labour remained tight-lipped Sunday on details surrounding a stage collapse at Downsview Park that killed a drum technician for Radiohead and forced the cancellation of a sold-out show.

spokesperson for the British band identified the drum technician as Scott Johnson, 33, of Doncaster, England. Johnson also toured with another U.K. band Keane.

“He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew,” Radiohead wrote on its website. “We will miss him very much.”

As three inspectors and two engineers from the ministry scoured the scene Sunday, it remained unclear what caused the massive structure to crumble, crushing Johnson and injuring three others.

Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene after sustaining what police said was a “heavy, crushing injury.”

Ministry spokesperson Matt Blajer said the investigation is “fairly complex” but could not confirm the names of any involved companies.

Meanwhile, industry professionals are questioning the circumstances leading up to the fatal accident, which occurred on an otherwise bright and sunny day, with only light winds.

From Radiohead‘s website:

We have all been shattered by the loss of Scott Johnson, our friend and colleague. 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.

Rest in peace, Scott Johnson.  More as it develops.

$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.

PukkelPop Festival Roof Collapse, 3 Dead, 70+ Hurt

FOLKS:  PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES or CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN THERE, I’M GONNA UPDATE EVERYTHING IN SEQUENCE AS I GET IT.  PLEASE SHARE WITH EVERYONE, WE NEED A WORLDWIDE OUTPOURING FOR THIS. 

Hang on, folks, we’ve got another one.  News is coming in from all over the place about the PukkelPop Festival in Belgium – weather got bad, a roof collapsed, three people killed, and at last check another 70 plus injured.  This is a popular festival, and people are dead because of a truss roof collapse.  I don’t have much information on this (nobody does, only what has been coming in from the web), so I will post what I have and I’ll update when I get it.  The band onstage was the Chicago band The Smith Westerns.  They’re apparently all doing ok.

Videos – there are lots coming in:

So far, it’s looking like another wicked storm hitting a structure, but other than that, news is not quite all filtered out yet. Three more dead as of now.

Images:

Stay tuned.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

UPDATES

UPDATE THURSDAY 8:24PM CST:
We are seeing news of the aftermath on Belgian TV and from new AP reports. From the latest news at Herald Sun:

UPDATE 10am: AT least three people are dead and dozens have been injured after a violent storm struck an outdoor rock festival in northern Belgium overnight, collapsing two stages and sending shocked fans running for cover.

One of the stages fell on concert-goers at the annual Pukkelpop festival in Hasselt, AFP reported, with the destructive weather uprooting trees and causing a tower with technical equipment to fall onto trucks.

Video footage from the site showed stage equipment dangling precariously and soaked revellers desperately fleeing the area.

One report suggested four people had been killed, while other news agencies put the death toll at three. The number of injured was reported at anywhere between 40 and 70 people.

More than 65,000 fans had reportedly flocked to the site for the popular music festival, where Jared Leto, actor-turned-frontman of 30 Seconds to Mars, was due to headline the program with his band last night, along with the Foo Fighters.

UPDATE THURSDAY 7:17PM CST:
News from Belgium from JimOnLight.com reader Patrick Van Houtte:

Latest official news here in Belgium:
4 dead, 35 severely injured, 100+ injured.
If you can believe it or not; they are planning on continueing with the festival the coming 3 days! The organisation will continue with the festival in a slimmed down version, meaning just 2 or 3 stages will be having artist performing instead of the 8 stages.

UPDATE THURSDAY 7:06PM CST:

UPDATE THURSDAY 6:50PM CST:
Reports of just crazy destruction at the Pukkelpop site, and a lot of confusion.

Also, check out this site about the Pukkelpop Disaster – so many just ridiculous images there. and ALSO again, check out this site for another full-page spread of Pukkelpop 2011 images. Unbelievably destructive.

Belgian network VTM is reporting a fourth person killed in the disaster.


UPDATE THURSDAY 6:13PM CST:

I just got word from Joy at the sister festival of PukkelPop – please see below:

“I know something more on the accident: 3 dead, 71 injured, of which 11 are severely injured. People are left in total confusion, they are not clearly briefed with information, official announcements on the accident have not been made after 3 hours. One person was killed with the collapse of a truss, another one was killed on the camping and another person has not been told of. Telephone network is out in the whole area. There’s no place all visitors can go to, they are taken care of by local people that provide shelter, food, drinks, dry clothes and showers. There was bad weather with hail and rain and strong winds that blew two to three tents and PA towers an d other tower structures collapsed. Trees fell down on site. further reports are still to be made. Just terrible what happened.”

I also just got this video in from @TMettes on Twitter of the roof coming down – clear footage, pretty unbelievable, like each one seems to be after the next.

More as and when I get it.

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse – The Score is Still FIVE DEAD.

Folks, there are two images in all of the last year I will remember.  This one:

and this one:

These two images go above all politics, all speculation about who was wrong, who was right, and who was there or not there.  Mother Nature whipped our collective industry butts on this one, regardless of who was at fault.  I’ve speculated, we’ve all speculated.  Cross bracing, guy wires, ballast tanks, longer than 10 minutes weather warning, all of it has been speculated.  What’s still reality is that we’ve got five people still dead, millions in damages, and some very, very bad situations right now on the ground at the Indiana State Fair.

I really hope that this entire investigation is kept as transparent as air, and I really hope that Governor Daniels stops talking about it, because every time he does, he gaffs something bigger than the last gaff he made.  Let’s remember that the score is still five dead.

 

SIDE NOTE:  I have gotten some information on how to donate to Nate’s family.  Please send donations to:

IATSE LOCAL 30
ATTN:NATHAN BYRD FAMILY (you MUST SPECIFY)
1407 EAST RIVERSIDE DRIVE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-2037

None of this is going to be pretty.  We’re going to have experts calling other experts nasty names, people telling other people they have no bearing for their arguments, and when all else fails, we’ll hear people calling each other stupid.  The score is still FIVE DEAD.  I’m leaving out the wounded numbers right now because those people will all most likely live to see another show another time, but the only thing that matters is that a concert went horribly awry, five people are now dead because of it, and unfortunately politics has swept in and begun to politicize the horrific tragedy that our industry is dealing with right now.

This whole situation is really wearing on my heart.  I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to having feelings, but my favorite thing on the planet is this industry, and it hurts to watch it take a black eye like this because of negligent decision making.

Let me just post some great articles to read on this mess, there have been a lot of them.  I’ve written three alone.

Start with THIS one first, it says that Governor Mitch Daniels says that the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse was a “learning point.”  

Erich Friend’s List of Articles on the Indiana State Fair Collapse

Governor Daniels Says State Fair Collapse ‘Defied Safety Preparations.”

Meteorologists Say Governor Daniels Calling Weather A Fluke ‘Isn’t Right’

Read this BoingBoing article for the commentary at the bottom

AP article by Tom Coyne about Safety and the Collapse

A story from Accuweather about the collapse and “Gustnadoes”

Inspections are NOT Required for Indiana Outdoor Stages (crazy read, holy crap)

Kirk Garreands’ article at ProLightingSpace – MUST The Show Really Go On?

and here are my three articles, please check out these links and learn more about this horrific incident:

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse, Five Dead.  Now What?
Sorry, Governor Daniels, We’re in the Business of Keeping Our Fans Safe – The Indianas State Fair Collapse Continues
Indiana Homeland Security Says Outdoor Stages are Not Structures – More on the Indiana Stage Fair Collapse

From the Facebook Group for Nate Byrd – the folks at NRG Staging pay tribute to a fallen brother:

Sorry Governor Daniels, We’re In the Business of Keeping Our Fans Safe – Indiana State Fair Collapse Continues

Don’t forget this image, people:

Don’t forget this one, either:

I’m overwhelmed with the awesome response that was given to the article from yesterday about the disaster at the Indiana State Fair at the Sugarland show.  I’ve got my hands in as many places as I can right now to keep on top of this situation, but there are some large mysteries surrounding this misery.

However, have you read the news in the AP wire (thanks Fox) about how now they’re looking at the collapse?  This has become a media salvage operation for Governor Daniels and his crew.  Sorry folks, this really upsets me, especially the language in his statement about the collapse.  From the report at the AP wire:

“Our first job is to get back in the business of living, get back in the business of the state fair and back in the business of caring for each other,” he said.

Since we’ve already arrived at the blame game part of the disaster with the Governor and the State Fair promoter people, I think we have two fingers that can be pointed.  Sorry, Governor Danielsyou get finger #1.

You know what, I understand that you’re just trying to salvage face at this point.  What you need to understand, sir, is that our industry, the Entertainment Industries as a whole, doesn’t do too well when these kinds of events happen, especially when they could have been avoided.  Nate Byrd’s donation of his life for the sake of a State Fair show is a donation that you should be clamoring to give back with every second of future shows you ever have a hand in producing.  I want you to know that, everyone in the industry wants you to know that, and I hope that you never forget that a show is LESS important than what you observed on Saturday.

Let’s take a look at some chain of command stuff here before we start blaming stagehands and riggers.  I think that is very, very important.  So, the chain of command broke down WAY before the time to blame riggers and stagehands.  Now is there stuff we don’t know?  Sure.  Everything is speculation at this point.  But five people are dead.  It’s time to get some answers now.

  1. Promoters.  It’s your fault for this happening.  Since you didn’t call this show at least on hold when that weather is visible, the blood is on your hands.  What you’re going to find is that there are many people under you who were probably suggesting that the show be held, at least until the weather passed.  Another show was cancelled just a bit away from your site, and those promoters gave their audience at least 30 minutes to get there before any weather reached the site.  Did that not surprise you?
  2. State Safety Officer.  What was it that you were doing that was more important that this?  You can get weather reports and warnings for free via text message if you happen to have an old phone.
  3. Public Safety Officer.  What were you doing when the weather was an hour away?  Your responsibility was public safety.  Five are dead.  I’d say you failed.
  4. Venue Manager.  You should have had your weather reports right up in your face, ready to tell the promoters that you were going to stop the show, and that was that.  Getting the PA down, getting the roof down, and getting the hands off of the deck are all things you should have been reporting to both the promoter(s) and the crew chief to execute.
  5. IATSE Steward onsite.  This one hurts me, but it’s true – what the IA stewards say onsite goes for all IA hands.  People should have been out of that rig when that weather was coming.
Promoters are not Gods, everybody.  They can be told no.  I mean, what’s the worst they’re gonna do, fire you?  My guess is that there are a lot of people who wish they would have gotten fired right now.

For the record, the Entertainment Industries are all about protecting our fans from the art they desire while we execute it like only we know how.  But we’re professionals about it, and we know when you need to pull the PA down, drop the roof and lighting, and just deal with angry fans for the sake of the fans until the storm passes.  Sugarland still would have rocked the heck out of it.

Sorry folks, but there are some issues with this AP article that have to be addressed.  I’m gonna go through these really quickly here, but the world needs to know how pissed our industry is with this mess.

From the AP article:

As the fair reopened Monday, investigators and the families of the dead and injured were still seeking answers to hard questions: Was the structure safe? Why were the thousands of fans not evacuated? Could anything have been done to prevent the tragedy?

State fair officials have not said whether the stage and rigging were inspected prior to Saturday’s show. Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said initially that the state fire marshal’s office was responsible for inspections, but he backtracked Monday, saying he wasn’t sure whose job it is.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said neither the fire marshal nor Homeland Security officials conduct inspections. And the city does not have the authority to inspect items on state property.

“We do have our own requirements within the city for temporary structures, and we do have our own permitting requirements,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. “But in this situation, we don’t have that authority because it’s state-owned property.”

As they investigate, inspectors for the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be looking at the weather and any potential structural or design flaws in the stage, among other things, experts said.

Another emerging issue is whether fair organizers responded quickly enough to forecasts of an approaching storm, especially since a different concert nearby was canceled because of the weather.

People, Mother Nature is gonna trash anything when hurricane strength winds blow through somewhere, but what the media needs to understand is that the reason this happened is a combination of things that we will probably soon discover in the follow-up.  Biggest issue right now?  WHY WAS THE RIG STILL IN THE AIR WHEN THAT STORM WAS COMING?!  Did you see that big blue tarp in the video flap around in the wind like a sail?  My professional guess would be that it was among the reasons for the sideways fall of that structure, the sail catching wind and pulling the rig out of balance.  But let me just say this out loud again so that all government agencies and OSHA and all of the people who will still be blaming our industry for this mess for a long time coming:  WHY WAS THE RIG STILL IN THE AIR WHEN THAT STORM WAS COMING?!

Here’s finger #2 – at the promoters for this event.

I am making a public call to the media and to the world – WHY DO WE NOT HAVE AN ANSWER FROM A PROMOTER ABOUT THESE THREE QUESTIONS?

WHY was the RIG STILL IN THE AIR when the storm was coming?
WHERE were the safety organizations’ representatives when this weather was coming through?
WHY was the RIG STILL IN THE AIR when the storm was coming? 

Was it worth the deaths?  Was it worth the mess?  Here’s the REAL kicker for your sleepy time – you DO REALIZE that Sugarland would have still played a great show if you would have taken the time to lower the PA, drop the roof, just for the time the storm was coming, and then rocked the crap out of your fairgoers’ faces.  Nate Byrd would also be running spots still, too.

We need to be concerned about a few things here:

  • Does it concern anyone else that the very same people who keep saying “oh hey, I don’t know WHO’S job roof safety is” are the very same people who are going to be investigating the disaster?  What I’m gonna be looking for is for OSHA and the Indiana people involved with this to be reaching out to parties in the Entertainment Industry to help them with the engineering and consulting.
  • We need to be concerned that there is already backtracking in public statements.  This is going to get worse.  Governor Daniels’ constant “let’s be moving on and healing from this tragedy” makes me even more suspect.  Sorry Gov’nah, this is more than just votes and political popularity.  Our industry is on the carpet for the lack of due diligence that the fair promoters exhibited in NOT GETTING THAT ROOF IN when the storm was coming.  We will NOT let you hang us out to dry on this one, especially when you chose to exhibit such negligence in this situation.
  • Kate Johnson’s statement:
    “We do have our own requirements within the city for temporary structures, and we do have our own permitting requirements,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. “But in this situation, we don’t have that authority because it’s state-owned property.”  Um, no.  More pass-off.  We can expect a lot more of this kind of garbage, I’m afraid.
  • Was the structure safe?  We’ll find out the answer to that soon, to be sure.  What is obviously a big issue is WHY THE RIG WAS A FULL HEIGHT IN THE ONCOMING STORM.  It’s Indiana, people, not Denver, where the mountains can hide rain.

I’m so disgusted with the just monster fountain of crap that’s engrossing this horrific incident.  It’s up to US to make sure we can filter the BS.  Anything and everything we can do is what is prescribed now.  If we leave this in the hands of the people who are obviously doing such a great job of managing the fair now, I fear it’s only going to be a matter of time before I’m writing about the next bunch of music lovers who were killed in a roof collapse.

Governor Daniels, this was not a freak accident.  This was negligence.  Promoters, I’m gonna be waiting for your answer.  We all are.