New information is being released in relation to the circus accident that took place Tuesday night in Lancaster, New Hampshire and claimed the lives of two people. Officials have confirmed that the circus company that had set up on the Lancaster Fairgrounds did not have the necessary permits for the tent that collapsed due to severe weather conditions. The “place of assembly” permit primarily used in these situations had not been acquired at the time of the accident.
Officials have not specifically indicated at this time how the lack of permit plays into the situation that took place on the Lancaster Fairgrounds. According to reports from investigators responding to the scene, winds in the area reached approximately 75 MPH at the time of the tent collapse. A storm warning had been placed into effect by the National Weather Service which advised individuals to seek cover until the storm has passed—a warning that circus organizers did not heed when they made their decision to proceed with the 5:30 PM show Tuesday night. Now, the National Weather Service is providing assistance into the investigation following the accident.
The storm moved into the Lancaster area quickly, approximately twenty three minutes after the National Weather Service had issued their alert. The tent collapse took place in a matter of mere moments, offering those inside little time to reach safety. A father and daughter lost their lives in the chaos that unfolded. A man by the name of Robert Young and his daughter, Annabelle, were crushed by a beam. Jonathan Young, Robert’s son and Annabelle’s brother, described the accident that took the lives of his father and sister. Jonathan said that his father was attempting to protect Annabelle when the beam crashed down on top of both of them—Robert Young’s skull was crushed on impact. Jonathan said that his mother had reassured him earlier in the evening that everything would be fine despite the severe weather warning—an assurance she provided after circus officials addressed the audience and stated that it would be safe to carry on with the show.
At least thirty two other spectators were injured when the tent was ripped from its foundation and subsequently collapsed on the one hundred or so individuals who were present inside for the evening show.
Walker International Events Inc., the company that was operating the circus at the time of the accident, issued a statement for the first time following the horrific events that took place. They offered their sentiments and expressed their deep sense of “shock”. They said in their statement “Our very deepest condolences and prayers go out to the families whose lives were affected. We cannot begin to express the pain and sadness we feel.” Walker International did not, however, comment on their lack of permits or on the fact that circus organizers failed to heed the weather warnings that were issued prior to show time.
Governor Maggie Hassan, who had previously called for the help of witnesses in aiding the investigation, offered further statements of support and grief following the development of this news. She said, in part: “I join all Granite Staters in sending our thoughts and prayers to the Young family, their loved ones and their community in Concord, Vermont, and we also continue to hope for a speedy recovery for all of those who were injured.” Those involved in the decision making process on whether or not it was safe to proceed with the show deeply failed their employees and customers alike when they decided to proceed with a performance despite severe weather warnings.
Investigations into the accident are still ongoing and more information is expected to be provided in the upcoming days.
Quotes and additional information may be found at the following link: http://www.whdh.com/story/29700235/officials-circus-did-not-have-permit-for-tent-in-deadly-collapse