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

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L&N Productions' "Safe stage"
from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos
from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos (click for larger view)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


theafters-stage-collapse

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

From an article at WSOCTV:

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina |

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

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

genie-tower-wind-safety

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

stage-collapse-after

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

cleveland-co-christian-concert-collapse

stage-collapse-north-carolina

39 COMMENTS

  1. Genie Towers without any evidence of any ballast on hand… Bill Jax type staging with nearly no x-braces? This is an example of how not to do it.

  2. According to this story – http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/08/11/4229813/organizer-blames-stage-collapse.html – the production company was L&N Productions. Their web page seems to be down right now.

    A note to the gentleman from the American Legion regarding the cause of the incident – while weather may have been what brought the equipment to the ground in an untimely manner, it was most assuredly system design / assembly that was at the heart of the issues.

    • Absolutely correct. The title of this article should be changed to, “Another Structure Falls — Stage Roof Made from Genie LIFTS Collapses in North Carolina.” These were not Genie Towers. They were Genie Contractor Lifts used to lift Air Handlers, etc. There is a big difference between the two. Genie Towers have large outrigger and are designed for production use.

      With that said, the Stage Cover provider did a horrible job and deployed a very unsafe structure. There is no excuse for ignorance in this business.

    • The title of this article should be changed to, “Another Structure Falls — Stage Roof Made from Genie LIFTS Collapses in North Carolina.” These were not Genie Towers. They were Genie Contractor Lifts used to lift Air Handlers, etc. There is a big difference between the two. Genie Towers have large outriggers and are designed for production use–Contractor Lifts are not.

      With that said, the Stage Cover provider did a horrible job and deployed a very unsafe structure. Like many other professionals that see this, I could point out numerous major safety issues from the pictures posted here. There is no excuse for ignorance in this business.

  3. First off, thanks for this post. I hope people that do this kind of work look at this “structure” and see the potential for failure in this. The comment “the promoter for this event used the company without incident for “hundreds” of events” only means they were lucky for all those events prior to this incident. When you install a truss rig, the tower legs take the loads for both sides on the corner. And when they are wired and weighted, they will withstand moderate weather. When you install genies on the sides, you are betting the weather won’t go against the side that is not secured and tip the towers over. I can see this is what happened here. Regardless of how good or bad one thinks this installation was, my question is, why did no one think to lower the Genies? If they would have taken this down to 10′ it probably would have been bucked around but stayed up.

    If you are going to put up unsecured rigs like this, using equipment in ways it was not intended to be used, have enough people there to be able to do something to help the rig in case of emergency. Better yet, have someone on site that can make a command decision to bring this rig in.

    Aside from using poor judgement in building this rig, it appears they have poor production management on site.

    • You can’t bring those things down quickly! You have to have 4 people on the corners who are experienced in doing just that! If a storm just “pops up” like they’re acting like, they have zero chance of doing that! Secondly if it was tied down at that height properly, the moment they lowered it at all, would have caused it to become MORE unstable in severe weather, as the tension would then be removed on the tie downs, so that is no answer at all. This was just stupid from set up to collapse, that’s all!

  4. Their website is back up and working. Looking at the pictures they have posted, this was an accident looking for a place to happen.

    • Not really! The media is almost always inaccurate and incomplete! Useful idiots are who most “journalists” are!

  5. Unscrupulous and/or uninformed vendor doing it Absolutely Wrong. It’s that simple.

    This is how people get killed.

  6. So fxxxing wrong. Outriggers non existent, let alone the lack of the floor legs.
    That is not just a bodge, it is irresponsible obviously dangerous,
    Retards. !!

  7. These podunk staging companies often use indoor gear for outdoor events (Sugarland in Indiana being a good example). And though Michael is correct in stating that lowering the roof could have mitigated the accident, I cannot imagine trying to coordinate the process in adverse weather. Its hard enough to raise or lower four genies together in calm conditions, let alone six(?) in wind and rain.. Also,some local news agencies referred to the labor as volunteers. This is probably true when one looks at the photos and videos n
    of the people handling the gear.

    • Terry, the roof that collapsed in Indianapolis was a Thomas Roof made for outdoor shows. Mid-America Sound had used this for years without incident. The tragedy in Indy could have been avoided if the promoter had called for the show to be cancelled due to impending weather they knew was coming.

  8. the roof that fell in Indiana should not be compared to this piece of crap roof. That was not indoor gear, and it did exactly what it was designed to do, collapse on itself. That was bad management by not getting people out of there with fair warning not anything that had to do with the structure or the people who built the structure. Get your facts straight, im sure you don’t work for a real production company or you would know what I am talking about.

  9. One of the reports stated that they were in the process of lowering the roof when the winds hit. To lower the roof, you first loosen the tie straps. This is a point of vulnerability. If the wind hits then, there is nothing you can do. The most important thing is to get an early enough warning to be able to lower the roof and re-strap before the wind hits. I don’t know what the rating on this system is for wind, but it obviously can’t handle 40 mph winds. The stage in Indianapolis was rated for 25 mph winds. Indiana passed a temporary law to prevent this from happening again, but when you look at the video, that company had followed all of the things covered in the new law. The problem there was that they got hit with 75 mph winds. The event people did not stop the event. They insisted the follow spot operators stay up in the rigging so things could get going faster after the storm passed. They allowed people in the audience to wander beyond the barricades at the front of the stage. Those were the people that were killed. I can’t see from the photos of this if it was properly strapped down. But, the stage at Indianapolis was anchored to concrete poured in the ground. They also had two 3,000 lb water-filled tanks. The wind popped the concrete anchors out of the ground like corks in a bottle of wind. It drug the 3,000 lb tanks like toys. No matter what rating your stage has, you have to be prepared to stop things when a storm is on the way. That is the part people don’t take seriously enough.

  10. Ron, you may wish to read Thornton-Tomasetti’s full report: http://www.in.gov/sfc/files/041212_TT_Final_ISFC_Report.pdf

    There were some permanent guy anchors, but because the ISF wanted more room back stage for trucks and buses, they had the vendor use “K Rail” or “Jersey Barricade” as ballast. When the ground got wet the efficient of friction dropped and the K rail slid on the ground, releasing the guy tension. That began the domino effect that resulted in the failure.

    Thorton-Tomasetti identifies several reasons the ISF roof failed and any one of them could have resulted in the collapse… but the primary problem existed before the roof was ever built – there was no engineering study done for the 2011 setup, which differed from the previous year, for which engineering had been done (albeit incorrectly, as T-T points out). Other structural design deficiencies exist: guy wires, even at 1/2″ EHS, do not have the strength; the “fin plates” that provide the point of attachment for the guy wires to the structure are insufficient for the load applied at rated wind load.

    The reasons people died in Indianapolis, though, were human-induced and driving by commercial interests and by a lack of planning and chain of command, pre-disaster. Witt Associates evaluated the emergency plans for the ISF and found them wanting. The same indiana.gov website has Witt’s report available for download.

    Finally, the Event Safety Alliance has new guidelines available for free download. 200+ pages of reading. Do it.

  11. If you choose to use the Lords message for profit and awards, pats on the back for selling more GOD than others; RELIGION, not CHRISTIAN, you have to deal with it for what it is. Beware, who you’re dealing with!

  12. From New Zealand here, so we don’t have a lot of genie equipment, so excuse my ignorance, but are they not genie personnel lifts, not genie stage roof lifts?

  13. The Engineer who signed this off should be held liable!!! End of Story, The company that put it up knew perfectly well what they were doing was illegal aswell they must also be held accountable.

  14. The trussing on the roof is put together incorrectly. It’s all over their website too. This company should be put out of business. They’re going to get somebody killed.

  15. It seems that remarks such as “retard” or “moron” are dismissive. These people need to be trained. If they cannot, or will not be trained; then they need to be driven out of the business.
    At least as important is to educate the clients and potential clients about what can happen, and how quickly things can go wrong. As long as lowest cost dictates the purchase of services and equipment, without proper knowledge of what long term costs can be; these things will still happen.
    The industry has to do these things, or someone else will.

  16. Thanks BK. It is obvious now why the other rig went down. This picture tells a few stories. To start with, I find it interesting that it seems they spent more time making sure the speakers wouldn’t go down. They got the only real ground supported system and tied it off at 4 points. Why wouldn’t they do the same with the truss rig???

    So, for starters, the grid is floating. Not only is it floating, but off to stage left, there is some kind of tarp connected to the rig that is a big sail in itself. Normally, if you were trying to be safe with this sort of set up, the grid should have been sitting on top of the forks and held in place with a fork adapter and at least one cheeseboro. Even an aluminum cheeseboro would help.

    Next, I could be wrong, but it looks like the towers holding up the pre-rig do not have the front outriggers installed. They look like they are sitting on the grass and it looks like you can see the empty outrigger holder facing you.

    Anytime you see a “V”, something is askew. The two stage left towers appear to be just that. The bases are closer than the tower tops.

    Next, the pre-rig in the back is held in place by spansets. This is another piece of the rig that is floating. And, it is hard to see how the downstage pre-rig is kept from swaying.

    I can see they thought that if they flew this, they tightened the four corners of the truss down tight, that all of the pressure is sheer and they stop the sway. But, the towers are sitting on grass and the least they could have done is used cross-sheated ply underneath to give it some kind of strength.

    Last but not least, the truss does look pretty lightweight. I don’t understand how they could look at this rig an not think to use tower legs with weighted bases. It would change the whole dynamic. This looks like they want to get it up and down fast. How much more time would it have taken to bolt 16 bolts together and drop some ballast on the base plates?

    Bill, without a doubt like you said below, this is a training issue. PERIOD. The cost to do it right in this case is not much more expensive than the cost to do it wrong. Unless, of course, the rig fails.

  17. The Christian Music Industry is growing non stop. I have some sense of the growing trend as I have 30+ years within the Entertainment Industry.
    Just a two years ago,contracted as a Rigger and while standing by for a Christian Music Act’s rig to continue … but delayed by the lack of motor/hoist power… I followed two hundred feet of 2/0 feeder cable to its source only to find the “Technical Director” finishing his (unsupervised by the venue) tie-ins. He had installed his cam-loc tails INTO the LINE side of the 600A 120/208V 3Ph Main Breaker. The TD “knew enough” to have opened the disconnect switch between the 72KVA (or so) Wye step down transformer and the Main Circuit Breaker in which the tails had been incorrectly installed… I’ll say it again … in to the Line Side. Obviously that’s all he knew.
    After (too) much discussion, the problem was resolved. But only after I refused to let the rig fly and the venue (Church) was made to get involved.
    One issue (among the more obvious ones) that was raised by me during the “convincing period” was that all of the teenaged volunteers had camped out along and were sitting upon the very same 2/0 feeder as it’s 200 foot length wound around and followed along the venue walls. All other parties didn’t understand my concern….
    Frustrating to be considered an asshole while attempting to prevent disaster, get the load in moving forward. nd trying to provide cheap insurance through “Best Practices”.
    The Religious Music Industry needs to get its’ act together and stop living in blissful ignorance.
    The miracle that can be found and a good starting point is: To know that you don’t know what you don’t know.

  18. “I guess not even God can keep up improperly installed equipment.”

    Of course He can. He let the roof collapse 1) before the place was crowded with potential victims, and 2) so that others will learn how not to set up a temporary roof.

  19. One thing we don’t need is more “government regulation” that’s for sure! Look, we can’t even guarantee safety on the highway to GET to a concert with a crappy stage set-up! There are idiots with faulty brakes and bad tires, and then you add all of the “legal” Marijuana use and the alcohol use by drivers THAT IS ALREADY REGULATED AND BANNED BY THE GOVERNMENT, and hopefully you’ll see that it won’t stop criminals and idiot’s, simply by passing a new regulation! Use what we already have…….sue the crap out of the company! You are COMPLETLY right……genie towers should never be used to build a stage roof without over-engineered outriggers, EVER! In fact they shouldn’t be used to fly any production equipment without outriggers! We have to give complete engineering drawings to practically every municipality we set up in, and it becomes a nightmare because you have different idiots that understand NOTHING about what you provide to them, even though professionals and officials from the last place completly understood and signed off on it! There is literally no way to absolutely regulate every situation without causing unnecessary roadblocks to responsible companies, and even if you did, it would not be comprehensive to every municipality and governing authority, or much less, UNDERSTOOD by every individual charged with the authority to understand it! Lastly, severe weather can and will knock down ANYTHING in its way! That’s why buildings are ripped apart in straight line winds and Tornado’s! Every structure can come down and eventually will! Regulations won’t prevent idiots OR protect idiots! Yes, I said it! People are also idiots that go to ANY outdoor show and are not observant of possible dangers and severe weather episodes! That’s why 90% of the idiots died at the Indiana state fair a few years back! That stage was completly professional and was industry standard! When the 70 MPH winds hit it AFTER the black clouds and lightning, the people around the stage REFUSED TO LEAVE! Whose fault was THAT? Sugarland’s? Ridiculous! You are ultimately responsible to look out for danger, period!

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