Weight and time constraints might have played a part in Saturday’s stage collapse at Toronto’s Downsview Park that killed Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, 33, when the top of the structure came crashing down prior to the gates opening to fans.
Updated: Radiohead Stage Collapse Under Investigation, Toronto Police Seek Witnesses
“The crew had just a few hours to install the lights, cameras and speakers,” CBC News reporter Jeff Semple said. “CBC news has learned the lighting crew expressed concern there was too much wait, but the engineer gave the okay.”
He then took his findings and photo of the collapsed stage to Toronto structural engineer David Bowick. Semple did not speak with anyone directly involved with the staging – promoter Live Nation Entertainment, Toronto’s Optex Staging and Services, Inc; Toronto’s Nasco Staffing Solutions; or Radiohead’s Ticker Tape Touring.
“Because of a lack of redundancy, a very small human error could precipitate a chain reaction,” Bowick said of the collapsing structure.
“The thing that’s unique about this type of facility is the speed that it goes up and the speed that it comes down and it may very be that the pace of the industry is just too fast to follow normal protocols to do their job.”
According to unconfirmed reports forwarded to Billboard, Radiohead’s lighting and video gear arrived that day in Toronto from the previous night’s Montreal concert. One engineer said the stage roof could not handle the extra weight but a different local engineer signed off on it.
Like Steve Webb – one of CBC’s witnesses to the stage being built who snapped photos each day because he works nearby – another Billboard source relayed that it took only two and a half days. By comparison, the massive outdoor stage for this past Sunday’s MuchMusic Video Awards was up more than a full week before the actual event.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour, the Canadian government department that develops and enforces workplace health and safety standards, is still investigating the accident and the roles of at least four companies, which will take considerable time.