An incident at a circus that took place Tuesday night in Lancaster, New Hampshire has left two people dead and thirty two others injured. Over one hundred people were in attendance at the Walker Brothers International Circus when severe weather caused a circus tent to collapse, trapping spectators inside. Accordingly to preliminary reports, the National Weather Service had issued a statement approximately twenty three minutes prior to the tent collapse, stating that due to imminent extreme weather conditions, people should be advised to take cover until the storm had passed. This warning did not deter circus operators from proceeding with their 5:30 PM scheduled show—motivations for this decision remained unclear to New Hampshire’s fire marshal as he began his investigation on scene Tuesday evening.
New Hampshire’s fire marshal, William Degnan, has said that the two victims have been identified as 41 year old Robert Young and his 8 year old daughter Annabelle Young, both of whom were from Concord, Vermont. Degnan went on to say that autopsy results for both victims indicate that they died of blunt-force trauma. The additional thirty two individuals who were injured during the collapse were treated for a variety of injuries, some severe, at four local hospitals.
Witnesses describe the scene Tuesday night as chaotic. One man, Rick Cadieux, who had attended the show with his wife and grandson, said that once the winds picked up (winds that, according to the National Weather Service, reached approximately 75-90 mph at the time of the tent collapse) the sides of the tent began to blow open. Around this time, large hailstones began pummeling the tent. Cadieux has also said that he glanced up around this time to check the security of the poles and found that they appeared to be fine. Once the wind picked up, however, the steel infrastructure of the tent collapsed causing the entire structure to fall to the ground. “There were two large 50-foot towers and they started to go and pulled the whole tent with it.” Cadieux told reporters. Thankfully, he was able to get himself and his family to safety inside their vehicle. He said that after he safely secured his wife and grandson inside his car, he ran back to the tent in order to help those who may still be trapped inside.
Another witness, a woman by the name of Kimberly Roy, described the scene as “just awful.” She stated that those in attendance at the circus were in a state of pure panic. Children were unable to find their parents and parents were unable to find their children. Doreen Dingman, who accompanied Kimberly Roy to the show, said that “You could hear kids crying,” and people screaming as soon as the tent began to collapse.
Rick Cadieux, other bystanders, and circus performers, many of whom were still in costume, worked tirelessly to free those still trapped inside the tent until emergency responders could arrive on scene.
Fire Marshal William Degnan has said that officials will work toward recreating the scene in an attempt to better understand how the tent was setup, and if it was in accordance to safety laws for building and fire codes. Degnan went on to say that Lancaster does not specifically require building permits, as they do not have a building office that is responsible for these types of matters. However, Degnan and others will be assessing whether the circus complied with building and fire codes that are enforced nationally. The responsibility for this horrible incident, he has said, lies with the circus organizers. Organizers for the circus are supposed to monitor weather conditions for the area in an attempt to determine whether or not it would be safe to hold a show on a particular day. Those organizers, as well as representatives for the circus, did not want to provide comments on the matter until they had received legal representation.
In the meantime, both Fire Marshal William Degnan and New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan are asking the public to help with the investigation. Governor Hassan offered her condolences to the family members of the victims who were lost on Tuesday, as well as to those that bore witness to the event and were subsequently injured. She has said that any information at all, even if individuals feel it may not be beneficial or necessary, is welcomed by law enforcement officials. Those who want to step forward to describe what they may have witnessed are encouraged to contact the Fire Marshal’s office.
Governor Hassan also took time to commend the circus performers and bystanders who rushed to the aid of those in need. She said that these individuals, and the first responders who arrived on scene, helped save lives after the tent collapse. As we have seen this week the weather in New England can change in a matter of minutes – the events up in New Hampshire are tragic hopefully better safety measures will be in place to prevent this from happening again. As Boston injury lawyers have have represented victims that have been injured as a result poorly constructed or secured outdoor equipment. If you or a love one has been injured and need some advice or just want to ask a few questions give our injury lawyers a call today.
Quotes and additional information may be found at the following link: http://www.wcvb.com/news/man-young-girl-killed-when-circus-tent-collapses-in-lancaster-nh/34523816