A Kentucky woman who nearly lost an eye in a freak accident at a Garth Brooks concert is counting her blessings after receiving a $65,000 balloon payment.
Jean Ann Crenshaw thought she had an ideal seat when she and four friends drove to Nashville for a Dec. 9, 2017, concert at Bridgestone Arena, the first show in the final city on Brooks’ three-year tour. But a planned balloon-and-confetti drop honoring songwriter Mitch Rosell (who penned Brooks’ No. 1 Country Airplay single “Ask Me How I Know”) went awry. When the balloons failed to drop, a worker used a metal pole to pry the rigging loose, but dropped the shaft into the audience in the process. Crenshaw was looking up, attempting to collect one of the balloons, but never saw the pole until it hit her below the eye, requiring stitches and surgery.
Iden Entertainment, the balloon company, took responsibility for the mishap. (In a fan video posted on YouTube, the pole can briefly be seen in the right-hand portion of the crowd just after the 4:05 mark.)
Crenshaw’s nose was broken, scar tissue blocked her tear ducts and she still feels occasional shooting pain from nerve damage near the eye. Her face remained bruised and swollen for several months and her husband received nasty glares from strangers who, presumably, thought he had beaten her.
Iden’s insurance company, State Farm, agreed to a $65,000 settlement, covering $25,000 in medical fees and $40,000 for additional damages.
The employee who dropped the pole was shaken by the incident, according to Iden General Manager and Vice President R.J. Monds, who said it was the first accident the company had experienced among 2,000-plus balloon drops in over two decades of business. The employee was reprimanded, though he continues to work for Iden. Monds said the company never tried to deny its responsibility.
“We do something wrong, we take ownership,” he said.
Crenshaw and her friends all received refunds for the show and arena representatives reached out to her two days after the accident. Someone from Brooks’ team took down her contact info at the concert before she was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center, though the team never contacted her after that. She admits she was “disappointed” and though she’s less enthusiastic about seeing a full Brooks concert, she says she might still end up going to one of his upcoming stadium shows. Since most stadiums do not have roofs, she’s less likely to be injured by overhead objects.
“The worst that could happen,” she says, “is a bird could poo on you.”