Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wind Gust Topples Stage Canopy in Shelby North Carolina

2013-08-10 - Preparations for an evening concert were disrupted at the end of the sound check for one of the bands as a wind gust from an approaching storm blew the overhead lighting and canopy support trusses over.  A band member from The After had just stepped off of the stage when the structure toppled.  The show was set-up at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds near Shelby, North Carolina.

Picture Tweeted by The Afters
The picture from stage left shows a disturbing lack of safety preparation and recovery efforts.

The band’s opening act, The Afters, was doing a sound check around 3:30 p.m. when the wind picked up and the stage started shaking.

“This storm suddenly came in and suddenly I hear 'get off the stage!'” said The Afters’ lead singer Josh Havens, in a cell phone video shot by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard.  “And we're running, jumping off the stage.”

MercyMe’s stage manager witnessed the collapse.  Joel Bench is used to setting up and taking down stages – just not like this.

“The wind just picked up, the roof lifted a little bit,” said Bench.  “Then it started tilting and just kind of eased down.”

“Luckily we had people watching and eyes on it, and they started screaming and everybody started running and took off safely,” he said.

Reports from the event tell of lightning in the area which should have caused the stage to have been evacuated long before the collapse occurred.  Lightning strike and weather warning applications for smart phones and dedicated lightning strike monitor tools ( are commonly available and should ALWAYS be monitored, especially if there are visible adverse weather conditions.

John Huntington's ControlGeek site has a thorough run-down on the actual weather conditions:

Brittany Spangler, administrative assistant for the American Legion World Series, said “The World Series officials are all devastated, but in the end, it was safety first for the artists.  We’re sad, but you can’t really stop Mother Nature.  We weren’t aware that the winds were going to get that high.”  Commentary:  The venue should have had a weather service monitoring the local and regional weather.

Fortunately, no one was injured and the scheduled event that was expecting as many as 10,000 2,500 attendees was cancelled.  Hopefully, the event promoters and staging company have learned from this near-miss.

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