Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Storms sweep through midwest, one event attendee killed when tent collapses

Wood Dale, Illinois - Sunday, August 2, 2015, about 2:40PM - Like many summer storms, this one popped-up quick, dumped rain and hail, and blew hard.  Unfortunately, the city of Wood Dale didn't learn any lessons from the numerous storm-related disasters over the past few years, and completely failed to evacuate the Prairie Fest site before the weather hit.  There was a Junior High School immediately adjacent to the event site that could have been used as a durable shelter.  A tent structure on the site was filled with about 100 festival goers seeking cover from the onslaught of hail, and then the wind up-ended the tent tearing it from it's anchors.  One of the main tent support poles fell and struck 35 year old Steven Nincic in the head and killed him.  He is survived by his wife of three years and two daughters.

Other events in the region had watched the weather front more closely and had evacuation plans prepared and in effect.  Winds of up to 60mph were reported in the area.  The festival site is very close to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, so presumably excellent weather radar feeds were available for monitoring had the city elected to do so.  The city claims to have had an emergency plan, but no sign of it being implemented was visible.

First Responders had to cut through the tent to get to people trapped under the wreckage.  The remainder of the festival was cancelled after the weather passed, as police and ambulances came to treat the numerous injuries.

Lawyers for the family of Steven Nincic are filing an injunction to keep the tent site intact until a complete investigation can be completed, but many vendors and carnival ride owners have already packed-up and left.  An attorney representing the family released a statement contending that “the true tragedy” is that incidents such as the tent upheaval “are not only potentially predictable,” but “preventable with prudent caution and control of events in the face of available meteorological information.”  Attorney Louis C. Cairo said the weather and “the propriety of the tent materials and its installation” will be “litigated extensively.”

The city said that the tent was supplied by a vendor, and it had been inspected for electrical compliance, but not structural integrity.  This blogger finds this information to be more of a smoke screen to deflect attention away from the lack of weather monitoring and assigning someone the authority to close-down the event and evacuate people to hard shelters.  A safety plan, when implemented, reduces the need to rely on an emergency plan.  Safety plans address issues before they get to the point of being an emergency.

1 comment:

  1. I just wrote a blog about the circus tent collapse today and after reading your post, I looked up the Wood Dale information and updated the entry just now: http://controlgeek.net/blog/2015/8/4/deadly-walker-brothers-circus-tent-collapse-at-the-lancaster-fair-new-hampshire Thanks, John