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Sugarland’s Lawyers Blame the Injured – IN State Fair Collapse

Just like the remainder of this story, this isn’t going to end well.

So, the legal people for the band Sugarland have made some pretty sensational comments regarding claims made by the some of the people injured or killed in the collapse that took place at the Indiana State Fair during the summer of 2011.  I doubt you’ve forgotten any of it, I can’t believe that I’ll ever forget that image of the stage crashing down:

From a post at the MSNBC site:

Fans who were killed and injured when stage rigging and sound equipment collapsed onto them as they awaited a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair failed to take steps to ensure their own safety and are at least in part to blame for their injuries, the country duo’s attorneys said.

The statement, part of a Feb. 16 response to a civil suit filed by survivors and families of some of those killed, is a clear attempt to cast blame away from the band as investigators continue to search for answers in the collapse that killed seven people and injured 58.

Calling the powerful winds that toppled the stage on Aug. 13 an “act of God,” Sugarland’s attorneys said fair officials and Mid-America Sound Corp. were responsible for the stage setup, and that the fans voluntarily assumed risk by attending the show.

“Some or all of the plaintiffs’ claimed injuries resulted from their own fault,” according to the response. Sugarland attorney James H. Milstone would not elaborate Tuesday on whether that statement included those killed as well as the injured.

I actually found out about this from Erich Friend of Teqniqal Systems in Fort Worth.  Erich is a safety guru and general genius, and my go-to guy for safety.  We were chatting about this at PLASA Focus this week when he told me about the band’s legal response to the disaster.  If you want another mind-blowing bout of complete and utter ridiculousness, read through the comments on the MSNBC Facebook post about the story.  Holy sh*t.

I haven’t seen any retractions, big announcements, or the like about Sugarland firing its legal team, so perhaps they are right in line with these comments.  We’ll see.

Indiana State Fair Collapse Report Blames Mid-America and IATSE?

Update 11:53am:  audio of the news conference releasing the IOSHA report that happened Wednesday, February 8, 2012.  heads up, it’s a direct link to the .WMA file the State released.

I’m a bit at odds with how to write this article because it is news, after all.

Governor Daniels and his people from the State departments tasked with finding out who to point the finger at with regards to the disaster in Indiana this summer at the Indiana State Fair finally put out their report.  Finally.  The report finds that Mid-America Sound and IATSE Local #30 for the issues.  Something I find confusing and disgusting is that:

  1. Governor Daniels has not acknowledged that the State has any blame;
  2. the PRODUCERS of this event haven’t had any blame placed on them, either.

Does anyone else find this disturbing?

Here are the blame documents and the safety violations with fines attached.  I downloaded the originals posted today.

  1. ISFC News Release
  2. IOSHA Inspections FACT SHEET
  3. Safety Order for the Indiana State Fair Commission
  4. Summary Sheet for the Indiana State Fair Commission
  5. Safety Order for IATSE Local #30
  6. Summary Sheet for IATSE Local #30
  7. Safety Order for Mid-America Sound
  8. Summary Sheet for Mid-America Sound

From a post at the Indy Star:

Lori A. Torres, Indiana Commissioner of Labor, said IOSHA’s role was not to determine what caused the stage rigging collapse but to look for workplace safety violations.

Torres said the State Fair Commission did not protect employees from hazards and had an inadequate plan for emergencies. Fair officials were slow to make appropriate decisions, Torres said.

IOHSA cited union riggers for failing to check soil conditions before securing guide wires. The construction was not “competent” by industry standards, the report said.
One stagehand, Nathan Byrd, was among those killed in the collapse. At least nine other union members were injured in the collapse.

The IOSHA investigation is only one of several investigations into the stage rigging collapse.

The State Fair Commission also hired Thornton Tomasetti, an engineering firm based in New York City, to investigate the rigging collapse.

Gov. Mitch Daniels later hired Witt Associates, a public safety and crisis management consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., to conduct a “comprehensive, independent analysis” of the fair’s preparedness and response to the disaster.

I feel it’s necessary to post the text from these summary sheets. See it listed below, it’s short. If you’re in the industry, look at this stuff. Once it becomes legal precedent, things are forever different. It’s our responsibility to watch how this unfolds in our industry.

Summary for Mid-America Sound:

Media Contact: Robert E. Dittmer, APR, 317.234.3793 Indiana Department of Labor – IOSHA Division

SUMMARY SHEET:  FATAL INJURY INVESTIGATION OUTCOME: Indiana State Fair (workplace)

IOSHA found that the Mid-America Sound Corporation, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not establish and maintain conditions of work which were reasonably safe and healthful for employees, and free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or physical harm to employees. Therefore, the following safety violations are issued:

Knowing Violation 1:

  1. a)  Mid-America Sound did not develop and implement an Operations Management Planpertaining to the construction of the 2011 structure.
  2. b)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not prepare proper layout drawings, engineering documentation, and Operations Management Plan for each use.
  3. c)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not develop a risk assessment plan and make workers aware of the hazards pertaining to the construction of the 2011 structure.
  4. d)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not conduct periodic inspections by a qualified person, with appropriate documentation, on the structure constructed at the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand.
  5. e)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not keep records for each structural component pertaining to the 2011 structure.
    A $21,000 penalty has been assessed.

Knowing Violation 2:

a) Mid-America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not provide cross-bracing as recommended by the manufacturer.

  1. b)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not take into consideration the soil conditions at the location.
  2. c)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not designate a competent person.A $21,000 penalty has been assessed.

Knowing Violation 3:

  1. a)  Mid-America Sound did not have current engineering calculations, design notes, and test results for the structure constructed at the 2011 Hoosier Lottery grandstand.
  2. b)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not have adequate knowledge of the engineering documentation pertaining to the construction of the 2011 structure.
  3. c)  Mid America Sound, contracted to construct the Load Bearing Roof Structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not take into full consideration weights of all equipment including but not limited to follow-spot chair, temporary personnel occupancy and reactions from fall protection systems pertaining to the 2011 structure.A $21,000 penalty has been assessed.

Total penalties assessed: $63,000.

Abatement is required on all violations no later than 03/06/2012.

The maximum allowable penalty under Indiana law for a Knowing violation is $70,000.

Mid-America Sound Corporation was notified of the findings if this investigation prior to the media briefing.

Summary for the Indiana State Fair:

Media Contact: Robert E. Dittmer, APR, 317.234.3793 Indiana Department of Labor – IOSHA Division

SUMMARY SHEET
FATAL INJURY INVESTIGATION OUTCOME: Indiana State Fair (workplace)

IOSHA found that the Indiana State Fair Commission did not establish and maintain conditions of work which were reasonably safe and healthful for employees, and free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or physical harm to employees. Therefore, the following safety violations are issued:

Serious Violation: The Indiana State Fair Commission did not conduct a life safety evaluation which included an assessment of all conditions and the related appropriate safety measures, of the Indiana State Fairgrounds concert venues, such as but not limited to the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, for events being held at the 2011 Indiana State Fair.

Abatement is required no later than 03/06/2012. A $6,300 penalty has been assessed.

The maximum allowable penalty under Indiana law for a Serious violation is $7,000.

The State Fair Commission was notified of the findings if this investigation prior to the media briefing.

Summary for IATSE Local #30:

Media Contact: Robert E. Dittmer, APR, 317.234.3793 Indiana Department of Labor – IOSHA Division

SUMMARY SHEET
FATAL INJURY INVESTIGATION OUTCOME: Indiana State Fair (workplace)

IOSHA found that the Local 30 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees including Theatrical Payroll Services did not establish and maintain conditions of work which were reasonably safe and healthful for employees, and free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or physical harm to employees. Therefore, the following safety violations are issued:

Serious Violation 1: IATSE’s head rigger, required to make determinations on the construction and guy wire attachment points and placement of anchors on the load bearing roof structure on the 2011 Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage, did not take into consideration the soil conditions at the location.

A $3,500.00 penalty has been assessed.

Serious Violation 2: Employees working at the Indiana State Fair Grounds, erecting the load bearing roof at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand for the 2011 Indiana State Fair were not provided with fall protection from their employer for employees working 4 feet or more above ground level.

A $3,500 penalty has been assessed.

Serious Violation 3: The employer did not conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment of the work site to determine the personal protective equipment required when erecting the load bearing roof or any other jobs they perform at the Indiana State Fair grounds.

A $3,500 penalty has been assessed.

Non-Serious Violation 4: (SO #2) The employer did not maintain the OSHA 300 and did not have records of an OSHA 300A for the years 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.

A $1,000 penalty has been assessed.

Total penalties assessed: $11,500.
Abatement is required on all violations no later than 03/06/2012.
The maximum allowable penalty under Indiana law for a Serious violation is $7,000.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees including Theatrical Payroll Services was notified of the findings if this investigation prior to the media briefing.

What do you think?  Is this fair?  Is this sufficient for you?  Is this harsh?  Is this unjust?

Please post in the comments.  Share this with your groups.

$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.”

$35,000 Per Life, and A Search Warrant for IATSE #30 – Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Update

So, it’s been a little while since we’ve had to see the images of the Indiana State Fair collapse during the Sugarland show on the grandstand. I want everybody to see some of these images again, I think the only way to freshly get it in your head is to see what happened.

First this happened:

Then all of these people did this:

I just read two articles on the collapse and the aftermath. One of them said that the families of the fallen concertgoers were each given $35,000 for their dead loved one and that the Indiana State Fair attendance is lagging due to the “incident,” the other article said that the IATSE Local in Indianapolis, IATSE #30, is experiencing some grind from the lawyers from the state of Indiana. From an article at the Indy Star:

Lawyers for the state and a stagehands union are working on an agreement to turn over documents relating to the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.

A lawyer for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 30 said Wednesday that he was willing to hand over apprenticeship training files on stagehands who were working at the fair when the accident occurred Aug. 13.

Local 30 stopped the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration from conducting a search of its Indianapolis union hall last week. The agency had obtained a search warrant requesting employment disciplinary records, apprenticeship training records, certificates, licenses and other documents.

“We are trying to resolve this in a nonadversarial way,” said William Groth, the lawyer for the union. “We want to cooperate. We just think a search warrant is the nuclear option.”

Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed on Wednesday extended a stay of the search warrant until Nov. 3.

Chetrice Mosely, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, said “both sides have agreed to enter a discussion as to how to resolve this. Our goal is to get the records so we can do a comprehensive investigation,” she said.

This is a real bummer. I don’t really have much to comment on about this, I just wanted to share these two stories, as this is still fresh in the hearts of the families and IA brothers and sisters still mourning the loss of their cherished.

Then there was this article

INDIANAPOLIS — Two high-level investigations into the fatal Indiana State Fair stage collapse may not be released in time to help prepare for next year’s fair, the fair’s director said Tuesday.

Indiana State Fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye told a group of lawmakers that information from separate investigations into the stage collapse that killed seven people may not be complete until mid-April.

The state has typically done much of its work for its three-week-long summer fair by that point.

The state hired international engineers Thornton Tomasetti to investigate the wreckage of the stage.

The state also hired Witt Associates to assess the fair’s emergency preparations. Witt has completed much of its work but will wait until the engineers complete their investigation before issuing a report together with them, Hoye said.

“We’re progressing right now with looking at our emergency preparations, we’re doing a lot of front end work,” Hoye said after the meeting. “I think that report will clarify and put a snapshot on some of the things we need to do.”

There is more to this article of course, here – what we should be taking away from this whole thing is the amazing amount of bureaucratic inflighting and policy clouding will be involved with the results of the collapse by that time.  Let’sd hope not much – but we can all watch the news and determine how good this situation is going to come about once it becomes filled with politics.  I sincerely hope for the sake of the hearts of those involved that this time is the one exception.

 

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Claims A Seventh Victim

I want to make sure that no one ever forgets these two images:

Unfortunately, this horrible accident has claimed its seventh life, and now Meagan Toothman’s family is donating her organs, perhaps later today.  Here’s another image not to forget:

Rest in peace, Meagan.  Thanks for donating your organs so that others may improve their quality of life.  We’re really sorry that you had to have this decision made for you.  If you would like to know more about Meagan, check out Meagan’s family’s website on Meagan’s process.  Unfortunately, you know how the story turned out already.

Just a quick recap of some stories you should be reading about this disaster in Indiana:

Boo’s thoughts on the Indiana Stage Collapse

 

Indiana’s Self Policing Raises Questions – this one is kinda great, just because it calls into question the procedures and practices being used by Indiana Fair Investigators.  From the article:

Other states in similar positions have formed special commissions with outside experts to handle investigations, including of a bonfire collapse at Texas A&M University and the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels so far hasn’t mentioned the idea, and instead has repeatedly referred to the wind gust that toppled the stage but spared other nearby structures as a freak occurrence that couldn’t have been anticipated.

“The fair has an interest in protecting itself,” attorney Jerry Miniard of Erlanger, Ky., who is representing an injured girl, said Thursday. “Why in the world would you let someone who may be responsible investigate themselves?”

Miniard said he is a friend of the father of 10-year-old Jade Walcott, whose skull was crushed by the falling stage. He questioned how thorough the probe will be given that it’s nearly all being done in-house.

“The state of Indiana is basically investigating itself,” he said.

Judy Nadler, a former mayor of Santa Clara, Calif., who is a senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said that could be a mistake.

“There’s this sort of automatic default to say, we have people here internally who can take a look at this … but for something so closely affiliated with the state, it would be wise to call upon someone who doesn’t have any even perceived conflict of interest,” Nadler said. She suggested bringing in someone from outside the state, perhaps even an outside regulator.

“I think it really is such a significant event … it requires a level of independence to fully discern the facts and to fully convey to the public that this was a fair and thorough and impartial and nonpolitical look at what happened,” she said.

State fair officials did announce this week that they had hired New York engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti Inc. to review the stage’s design and construction, but Miniard questioned how far-ranging that probe might be since the state will determine the scope of the investigation.

“The state of Indiana is in complete control over the investigation,” Miniard said. “And the state’s interests are possibly different than those people who were injured or killed.

Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other agencies conducting their own investigations will all report to the fair commission. “I am quite sure that everybody is going to be satisfied with the thoroughness of this investigation,” he said. “And nobody wants the answers more than us.”

You know what, I’m not touching that one today.

Also, see the article Indiana State Fair’s Disaster Preparedness Plan is One Page Long.

You still think this is a fluke, Governor Daniels?

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.

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:

Help A Killed and An Injured Brother in the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse #hoosierstatecollapse PLEASE RT

UPDATE:  I have received information on how to make donations to Nate Byrd’s family.  Send donations to:

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

Right now we have a task to do for our fallen brother’s family in Indiana, everybody.  Nathan Byrd was up in the truss when it fell to the ground in a storm.  He was working to support his two kids, who are now in need of support because their father died in the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage on Saturday, August 14, 2011.  You’ve read the articles I’ve written about the disaster, and undoubtedly seen the video.

Nathan Byrd’s obituary:

Nathan Lee Byrd
51, of Indianapolis, passed away August 14, 2011. He was born September 24, 1959 to Alvin Lee and Loretta J. (Wilkerson) Byrd.

A lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Nathan was a graduate of Manual High School. He was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #30, where he was instrumental in the erection and lighting of stages for various venues in the Indianapolis area. He was a member of Calvary Tabernacle.  Visitation will be Wednesday, August 17, 2011 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Shirley Brothers Thompson Road Chapel , 3333 E. Thompson Rd., with funeral services Thursday at 1:00 p.m. at Calvary Tabernacle, 902 Fletcher Ave.  Nathan is survived by his parents, Alvin and Loretta Byrd; children, Trevor and Natalie Byrd; siblings, Randy Byrd, Kim Byrd, Marilyn Barfield (Joe), Scott Byrd and Bryan Byrd. http://www.shirleybrothers.com

This is a rough time for the families of all involved.  If you can do anything to help Nathan Byrd’s family, I know that they would be so grateful.  The brothers and sisters of IATSE Local 30 have started a fund for Nathan Byrd’s family at http://www.cicf.org/.  I’m so sorry I don’t have many details on the fund yet, but perhaps CIC will.  Shirley Brothers located above in Nathan’s obit might also know of ways to help the family.  If you have a few bucks, please help them out.  This is, as you can imagine, is not a good time for them.  If you can’t afford to help, then help yourself as we all have to do.  JimOnLight.com is making a donation.  If you have the means to help, skip a month of lattes, that’s what I’m doing to help this family.

Luck shone on Steve Stover, a stagehand from IATSE Local 30 who was also in the truss when it fell, but managed to not be killed in the fall.  From the last I heard about this after checking in on it, Steve is still in ICU in critical condition, is expected to make a recovery, but he’s apparently in for a long-winded recovery.  Lighting Designer Cosmo Wilson is asking that we send Steve a card for when he comes to in the ICU.  I just filled one out, slapped a stamp on it, and it is on its way.  If you wanna send Steve a little note, please do so by sending it to his hospital room:

Indiana University Health
Steve Stover / Room A5216
PO Box 1367
Indianapolis, IN 46206

Thanks for everything you do, everybody.  Help if you can, and send good thoughts if you can’t help out right now.

We need to have industry professionals involved with this investigation.  Somebody like Bill Sapsis, Erich Friend, somebody with the engineering background and the knowledge of our systems.  Perhaps they’re already involved, I personally do not know, but no one is doing or saying anything outwardly to put any comfort into this situation.  Our voice is the loudest when we speak as one people, one industry.  If you feel that you want this investigation made by people who are industrial professionals, please make your voice heard, leave a comment here.

Indiana Homeland Security Says Outdoor Stages are Not Structures – More on the Indiana State Fair Collapse

In the ongoing and expected to be long-winded and ongoing investigation of the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse, the Indy Star has put out another article.  This one has some interesting information in it about how Indiana Homeland Security feels about temporary outdoor stages.  From the article at the Indy Star:

Under Indiana Administrative Code, a structure — temporary or permanent — has to meet stringent code requirements, such as being able to withstand winds of up to 90 miles per hour. The winds at the fairgrounds blew less fiercely than that Saturday evening, about 60 to 70 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

But the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said temporary outdoor stages are not, strictly speaking, structures.

“You’re talking about scaffolding and equipment,” Erickson said, “not a structure.”

Well, there we have it.  Outdoor stages are just scaffolding and equipment in Indiana, not “structures,” so they don’t get inspected.  Awesome.  You really have to read this article, folks.  Let’s hope Indiana’s Department of Labor and Indiana OSHA don’t take five months to figure out what happened on this one like they did with Declan Sullivan, the University of Notre Dame student killed when the crane he was in to film a football practice tipped over in the wind.

Gah.  Go read the article at the Indy Star on this – what a crazy read to just come across.

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.