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PLOT TWIST in NC Stage Collapse – Promoter Convicted Previously for Extortion and Wire Fraud

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

I’ve been covering every bit of information I have gotten on the stage collapse that happened – I thank each and every production tech, every audience member, and every industry vet who has weighed in on the accident.  I was lucky enough to have a large pool of on-hand folks to call on to comment on this mess.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media publications don’t have this pool of information, and once again, the major funded publications have printed information that just isn’t accurate.  Print and TV publications like the Charlotte Observer, WCNC Charlotte, WSOC-TV, et al have published comments by the promoter, Bobby McLamb, whose attitude is just short of being criminally negligent when it comes to the safety of the people he’s promoting concerts for — and comments by the production company’s owner, James Little, who made claim in the last article published by the Charlotte Observer, for example, stating that there were 12 towers holding up the roof when it was blown over.

That comment made me go back and look at the first images of the collapsed stage.  Let’s do it together — and check my math here, but I count FOUR TOWERS holding that stage up, not twelve.  There are TWO towers that appear as if they used to hold up the FOH “truss,” and another TWO towers that appear to have held up the upstage “truss.”  Count with me here — there are not even 12 towers IN these photos.

the L&N Productions stage

I see a total of FOUR towers in this shot.

L&N Productions' "Safe stage"

Let’s play COUNT THE TOWERS HOLDING UP THE ROOF.  I count 4, not 12.  Where oh where did the other 8 go?

This kind of crap just sickens me.  As one of my anonymous sources on the road with one of the bands involved in this near fatal accident said, “you can count on this guy using this truss again and again.”  Sadly, this is probably true.

I did some research into Bobby Mclamb‘s past, and I found some very troubling information.  Mclamb was convicted of extortion and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in a Federal RICO (that means Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) case back in 2004 that stemmed from good ol’ Bobby exerting his influence over state fair decision making.  Mclamb ran for North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner and lost to a woman named Meg Scott Phipps; once he lost, he joined her campaign as an aide, then all of the f*ckery began.

I wonder why no major news outlet put two and two together on this? 

From the Lexington Dispatch, March 19, 2003, via Google Newspapers:

lexington-dispatch-3-19-2003

Here’s just a little more information on this case — it sort of reads like TiVO programming instructions until you understand that Mclamb served time for influencing entertainment decisions at the state level.  From a 2003 article in the Carolina Journal:

RALEIGH — A federal grand jury has indicted two former aides to Agricultural Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps, a U.S. attorney said at a press conference Tuesday.

The charges against Linda Johnson Saunders, of Louisburg, and Bobby C. McLamb, of Raleigh, include conspiracy, extortion, wire fraud, and mail fraud, said Frank Whitney, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The charges are related to the 2000 Meg Scott Phipps Campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture. Saunders was treasurer of the campaign. She was appointed special assistant to the commissioner as a paid employee of the Department of Agriculture after Phipps took office. Saunders resigned for health reasons Dec. 1, 2002.

She is charged with five counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud in connection with post-election fund-raising to pay off the campaign debt of McLamb, who was Phipps’s Democratic primary opponent.

She is also charged with money laundering and structuring transactions to avoid federal currency reporting requirements including the handling of $26,000 in cash from a Phipps fund-raiser.

One scheme detailed in the indictment included post-election contributions solicited and received by the Phipps campaign that were diverted to pay McLamb’s $75,000 Centura Bank Loan and $25,000 BB&T bank loan. Saunders concealed the diversion of the funds by filing false reports with the state Board of Elections, according to the indictment.

McLamb joined Phipps’s campaign after he lost to her in the primary. Phipps appointed McLamb assistant commissioner of agriculture after she won the general election. Phipps fired McLamb on Jan. 31, 2002.

Phipps and McLamb both had significant input into the operation of the State Fair, according to the indictment. Both are charged with violating the Hobbs Act, a federal statute that prohibits state officials from using their official power to extort money from people who have dealings with the state.

Shortly after Phipps was inaugurated in January 2001 news reports raised questions about her fund-raising. In June 2002 the State Board of Elections held a three-day hearing and fined the Phipps campaign $130,000 for campaign finance violations. Law-enforcement officials then took interest.

If you check out Bobby Mclamb’s website, he is indeed a comedian, and a motivational speaker.  I ran a background check on him, he is indeed the owner of Artists and Attractions, the papers and the TV news has already put that forth:

bobby-c-mclambWhat is scary is that he’s already been convicted of doing shady business deals once in the entertainment industry.  Do you think that perhaps allowing L&N Productions to construct rigs for him for 20 some odd years has put anyone else in danger of collapse or misinstalled equipment?  Mclamb was quoted in the Daily journal:  “…Bobby McLamb says he’s confident that L&N Productions of Hickory did a good job of putting the stage together…  McLamb is with Artists & Attractions of Raleigh and says he had never seen a roof collapse over a stage.  McLamb says he’s used L&N for more than 20 years and will continue to do so.”

Something else that Mclamb said was posted in the Charlotte Observer on August 18:

Some blamed L&N Productions Inc. of Hickory for shoddy construction of the stage. Others accused concert officials of not monitoring weather conditions.

McLamb has heard the rumors, but discounts negative comments from “people who look at online pictures and were not there at the fairgrounds when this happened.”

He stands by L&N, a firm he’s used at shows for more than 20 years and plans to keep using.

“They’re very professional,” McLamb said.

Well, Mr. Mclamb, we are an industry of experts and trailblazers, with chumps who do dangerous work mixed in — you choose to use a contractor who puts your eventgoers’ lives in danger.  Many of us have been doing this long enough to know when we see photos of accidents that better decisions have been made; you don’t have the experience that we do to make those decisions.  You shouldn’t dismiss our intelligence so quickly.  What you do when you pick people like L&N Productions to do the work for you while you stuff more money in your pockets is drive up ticket prices for future events, skyrocket insurance prices for other promoters, and give our industry a really bad name with YOUR sneaky backwards behavior.

Here’s some examples AGAIN of what Bobby Mclamb feels is professional, giving our entire industry a punch right in the throat.  Remember:  Bobby Mclamb thinks this is “very professional.”

It’s come down to this — since no one is going to do anything about this and no one is going to stop L&N Productions and Bobby Mclamb from doing shows that are equally as unsafe as this, below you will find the phone numbers and email addresses of L&N Productions, publicly posted from their website.  Give them a call and drop them an email, tell them to not only get their shit together, but to start acting responsibly in the face of the Entertainment Production industry that we all call our own.  This world is way too small for people like this to give the rest of us a bad name.  The media isn’t going to do anything for us, we must take care of this ourselves.  Tell your fellow production and touring friends to be careful around any gigs associated with L&N Productions.  The photos speak for themselves.

L&N Productions828-328-3235

James Little (Owner): james@landninc.com
John Little: john@landninc.com

Also, since Bobby McLamb, the promoter, has stated in the Charlotte Observer that he “has used L&N Productions for 20 years and will continue to do so,” give him a call and let him know that he should reconsider L&N Productions until they decide to do their work with a little more safety and security.  Here’s his contact information, he’s the president of Artists and Attractions in Lillington, North Carolina:

Artists and Attractions (also answering to this phone number is B+R Management, another Entertainer/Amusement Park management company Mclamb is involved with somehow)
Phone:  919-845-8378
artistsanda@aol.com
http://www.artistsandattractions.com

For more on Bobby Mclamb’s corrupt entertainment industry decision making (from http://www.crime-research.org/news/2003/03/Mess2201.html)

RALEIGH, N.C. – An offer by a winning politician to a vanquished candidate to help repay campaign debts has resulted in federal fraud, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy charges.

Charges against two former aides of Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps were related to fund raising during and after Phipps’ 2000 campaign, a federal prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Former campaign treasurer Linda J. Saunders was charged with 17 counts. Former commissioner candidate and assistant commissioner Bobby McLamb was charged with two counts – extortion by a public official and conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said.

Phipps was not charged. During a hearing before the state Board of Elections last year, Phipps repeatedly denied knowing about her campaign’s payments toward McLamb’s loans.

But the indictment said Phipps called and wrote to Centura Bank, where McLamb owed $75,000, asking that the loan be extended.

“My husband Robert and I are holding a series of fundraisers now and after the election in November to assist Bobby in retiring this debt and feel we should have no trouble raising the money to satisfy his debt to Centura Bank,” Phipps wrote in an October 2000 letter to the bank.

During the elections board hearing, Phipps said she and her husband talked with McLamb and a campaign contributor about helping McLamb. But she said she never agreed to use her campaign money to pay off McLamb’s debt.

“I would have been terribly upset had I known that,” Phipps said in June. “My husband and I have much more of an amount of campaign debt and it should have gone to us first.”

According to the 42-page indictment, the alleged crimes began after Phipps’ campaign told McLamb the campaign would help repay his debt. McLamb received the assurance May 2, 2000, the night of the primary after McLamb offered to support Phipps in the general election.

The indictment said the Phipps’ campaign diverted at least $86,000 in contributions to repayment of McLamb’s $100,000 debt. McLamb had separate $75,000 and $25,000 bank loans and Phipps called at least one bank asking that the loan be extended while her campaign raised money for it.

An attorney for McLamb said he hadn’t seen the indictment and couldn’t comment on the charges. An attorney for Saunders didn’t return a telephone call and numbers for Saunders in Raleigh and Louisburg weren’t answered.

McLamb’s first court hearing is scheduled for March 24, according to the court clerk’s office. No hearing had been scheduled for Saunders.

Federal prosecutors said McLamb was issued a summons to appear for his hearing, while an arrest warrant was issued for Saunders. The summons gives the defendant a chance to come to court voluntarily, while the warrant tells marshals to detain the defendant.

“I’m not surprised that the indictments came down,” said David Long, McLamb’s attorney. “My client has been interviewed.”

Whitney said the U.S. Justice Department has made official corruption a priority, right behind terrorism and cybercrime, and that the charges weren’t what he normally sees.

“In my 12 years in the Justice Department, I am not aware of any charges like this in North Carolina … two senior state officials indicted for allegations of extortion,” Whitney said.

Saunders, a longtime assistant to Phipps, and McLamb were accused of soliciting money they said would go toward retiring Phipps’ campaign debt. But state campaign finance reports filed by the campaign didn’t disclose the payments to McLamb.

The indictment also said after Phipps was elected in 2000, Saunders told fair midway companies they would have to contribute to help Phipps repay debts to be considered for a contract for the 2002 fair. Phipps replaced the longtime provider of midway shows with a new company.

Saunders, 43, also was accused of accepting two cashier’s checks totaling $14,500 from unidentified donors who wanted to influence the awarding of the midway contact for the North Carolina State Fair, according to the charges. McLamb, 42, also received a $20,000 check from someone seeking a vendor contract at the fair, the indictment said.

The indictment said Saunders funneled $22,000 in cash “through a complicated structure of financial transactions” to avoid a bank currency transaction report.

McLamb had received a $75,000 loan from Amusements of America, the New Jersey-based midway operator that won the midway contract for the 2002 North Carolina State Fair, the indictment said. One of the bank loans was to repay that loan, which was funneled through the owner of a private county fair. The repayments were sent back through the same route, the indictment said.

Whitney said the indictments resulted from a nine-month investigation by state and federal law enforcement. Whitney also said the investigation is continuing and declined to say if more people would be charged.

The counts against Saunders carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years and fines totaling $5 million. McLamb faces maximum penalties of 25 years in prison and fines of $500,000. Whitney said neither defendant, if convicted, would get the maximum sentence.

It wasn’t the first investigation of Phipps’ campaign. Last year, the state Board of Elections fined her campaign $130,000. The board said the campaign had taken $84,202 in cash from donors it could not identify and more than $14,000 in illegal corporate contributions.

Phipps, 47, is the daughter of former Gov. Bob Scott and granddaughter of Kerr Scott, who served as governor and U.S. senator. She declined to comment on the indictments, citing the ongoing investigation, but said “I have faith in our system of justice ….”

Also, here’s the original indictment, in PDF:
http://www.masstort.org/Downloads/StratesLawsuit.pdf

More:
http://www.carolinajournal.com/articles/display_story.html?id=413

From the State Attorney’s Office:
http://www.justice.gov/usao/nce/press/2004/2004-Mar-03.html

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nce/press/2004/2004-Oct-19.html

And a little bit more on Phipps, who started all of this mess in the first place – Star News, October 23, 2003:

star-news-10-23-2003

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.

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.

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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 Doesn’t Collapse – But It Could Have

In this time of year when everybody is having some sort of fair and providing entertainment, we’ve come to expect to see accidents. Well, I’m very happy to report that in this case, there wasn’t an accident. The potential for one was clearly there – between poor staging and the possibility for bad weather – but this time somebody used their smarts and made the right choice!

This particular event was actually last week, but some more details have been released since then. I’m certain that you’ll be surprised to see who actually made the decision in this. So, I won’t keep you any longer.

In a message from Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo:

A MESSAGE FROM PAT AND SPYDER REGARDING THE POSTPONEMENT OF OUR CITRUS COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS SHOW

To clear up what happened tonight and to put to rest any and all rumors…

Deborah Nader, the promoter for the Citrus Fairgrounds charity fundraiser show, failed to meet the contractual obligations for safety.

Our crew arrived first thing this morning to find substandard staging and unsafe conditions…and Nader was nowhere to be found until approximately 3pm!

Despite the repeated attempts of our representatives insisting that the infrastructure of the stage be fixed, by approximately 5pm the situation was still not resolved and it was deemed not safe to put one single piece of our equipment on that stage. We even had an independent structural engineer called in to assess the situation. He concluded that the stage was indeed unsafe and required that it be “modified” before anyone would be permitted to perform on it.

Read their message in its entirety here.

Pat and Spyder also released some photos to the Celebrity Examiner of the substandard staging with this statement:

Neil and I regret that we had to postpone last Friday night’s show in Florida. The safety of our fans, crew, and band must always come first. With the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair a few years ago, staging and production requirements are at an all-time high. The production and staging requirements were unacceptable. There simply was no option. We apologize to everyone who came to see us. But safety is paramount. We are working to reschedule the performance. In the meantime, all monies have been set aside until the show can be played. Thank you to all who support these three great charities.

Under stage bracings Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Under stage bracings
Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Photo of Stage at WalkerFest in Florida Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Photo of Stage at WalkerFest in Florida
Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

You can read the entirety of the Celebrity Examiner’s report here.

Thankfully, this time around we can all breathe a sigh of relief and hopefully learn something more from this non-event.

Thanks to Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo and to the Celebrity Examiner!

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 – Charges Laid On Live Nation, Optex Staging, and Domenic Cugliari

radiohead-stage-collapse

 

Last summer’s Radiohead stage collapse in Toronto that killed the drum tech, Scott Johnson, has culminated in some legal actions.  Four charges each have been laid in Ontario court against Live Nation Canada Inc., Live Nation Ontario Concerts GP Inc., Optex Staging and Services Inc. alleging they failed to ensure the stage structure was being built in a safe manner – and one charge on an engineer, Domenic Cugliari, for “endangering a worker as a result of negligence.”  This case goes to trial on June 27, so there will be more to report.

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From the Billboard site – a prepared statement from Live Nation:

“We wholeheartedly disagree with the charges brought against us by the Ministry of Labour. We absolutely maintain that Live Nation and our employees did everything possible to ensure the safety of anyone who was on or near the stage involved in the tragic incident that led to the unfortunate death of Mr. Scott Johnson. We will vigorously defend ourselves and we are confident that through this process the facts will come to light and we will be exonerated. As we commence this year’s concert season with a new staging contractor, Live Nation will continue its strict peer review process with external engineers for rigging and staging. We will remain vigilant in these safety and security procedures because the wellbeing of our employees, fans and artists is of utmost importance.”

Here’s a list of the charges on the four parties mentioned:

radiohead-stage-collapse-charges-page-1 radiohead-stage-collapse-charges-page-2

radiohead-stage-collapse-charges-page-3

 

What do you think?  Leave a comment below – another tragedy past in our industry, and I know that from now on, the heads are gonna roll in our business.  Keep your stuff together, people.  Do a great job every time.

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Thanks to Star Phoenix, MSN News, CTV News, and Globe and Mail.

 

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.

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.