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FLdewey

When weather kills, who pays?

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by on 02-22-2012 at 03:27 PM (11682 Views)
When it comes to weather who is to blame when a family member loses their life?

I always thought that if you lost your life in a weather related accident it was an "Act of God." Now don't get all upset with me Atheists... "Act of God" is an accepted legal term. I'm not specifying which God caused said act.

Religion aside... let's look at a recent weather related incident where people unfortunately lost their lives.

Indiana State Fair stage collapse

On the evening of August 13, 2011 at approximately 8:50 pm EDT at the Indiana State Fairgrounds during the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis between performances by Sara Bareilles and Sugarland the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage was hit by a high-velocity wind gust in front of a severe thunderstorm causing the stage to collapse. 7 were killed and 43 others were injured.

The victims had "little or no warning" is something that appears frequently in a search of news stories about this incident. "Struck without warning" was repeated on the evening news for several nights. So is that true? Did this weather system appear seemingly out of thin air?

6:00 pm EDT: the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma issued Severe Thunderstorm Watch number 777 for Central Indiana. This was in response to a squall line moving out of Central Illinois into Indiana. At the time, the Emergency Alert System bulletin noted that this particular thunderstorm line was capable of producing wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour.

8:39 pm EDT: , The National Weather Service in Indianapolis issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for all of Marion County effective until 9:45 pm EDT. This specific severe thunderstorm cell was capable of producing winds in excess of 60 miles per hour per the warning bulletin, and was heading eastward at approximately 25 miles per hour. According to the bulletin, the storms would be near Danville, Indiana, at approximately 8:50 pm EDT, a city that is approximately 20 miles west of The Indiana State Fairgrounds.

8:42 pm EDT: , Indiana State Police said that a warning had been issued to the crowd in the grandstand suggesting that they may have to take cover due to the incoming severe weather. However, witnesses reported that those in the direct path of the collapsing fly system did not evacuate per the announcement.

Depending on the report you believe between 8-12 minutes later strong winds caused the stage to collapse, killing 4 people at the scene or shortly after and one person the next morning. Two people died from their injuries in the days following the collapse. Over 40 others were injured.


Sky 10 minutes prior to collapse.

So who's fault is this? Here's a short list of parties being sued:
  • Indiana State Fair Commission
  • Indiana State Police
  • The Indiana Department of Homeland Security - I'm a little concerned this exists
  • Sugarland
  • Mid-America Sound Corp. - the company that installed the stage rigging
  • Live Nation Worldwide Inc. - the promoter of the Sugarland concert

I'm kind of worried that Indiana has their own Department of Homeland Security... but I'll save that for another blog.

Sugarland has denied negligence claims against it, responding to a lawsuit by saying that a fatal stage collapse last year at an Indiana State Fair was "a true accident, or act of God." In its response, Sugarland contended that the incident was caused by a "gust of wind of unprecedented intensity," according to court documents obtained by CNN affiliate WRTV. I'm not sure I'd go with "gust of wind of unprecedented intensity" here, I mean straight line winds of 70mph are nothing to sneeze at, but it's also not uncommon.

I certainly understand that in an organized event situation like this some responsibility lies with those who are putting on the show. For example was the stage set up properly? If so was there a plan in place to handle severe weather? I mean this was a squall line - it's movement direction and speed were fairly easy to predict even with a basic knowledge of weather. Why couldn't someone from the event put two and two together and said hey - we have to postpone this concert for 45 minutes while the storm line passes?

On the flip side of that argument didn't every person there have a responsibility to see that standing under a giant stage in the open during an approaching storm was a bad choice? Hindsight of course is always 20/20, and I do wish those people had not lost there lives. I just wonder are the people who are now suing everyone and their mother disparately trying to profit from a weather related accident that couldn't be prevented, or do you think the responsibility of personal safety in these cases belonged to another person or company?

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Categories
General Weather , Outdoors , Music , Storm Chasing

Comments

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  1. CRepp28's Avatar
    Nicely Done Dew. Will we ever figure out a way to get the Masses to take our warnings seriously?
  2. SQUAWK's Avatar
    In this case I am going to side with the people that are suing the promoter. The people in the audience may not have had the means to be warned about the weather unless a public announcement was made, which I doubt.

    The promoter chose to keep the performance going instead of delaying it. That is where I put the most blame.

    Can't blame the state police. Can you imagine the riot that would have occurred if they shut down the show for a thunderstorm? Especially if nothing happened.
  3. SQUAWK's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by CRepp28
    Nicely Done Dew. Will we ever figure out a way to get the Masses to take our warnings seriously?
    NOPE
  4. FLdewey's Avatar
    I guess in reading about all of the lawsuits I see 2 distinct groups. One is people suing because a family member was killed or injured, and the other is people who are suing for "emotional distress" because they had to see it happen.

    I'm not sure there should be a difference, but in my mind for whatever reason the second strikes me as frivolous. I know it must have been traumatic, but I don't know if you should be able to collect money from that.
  5. FLdewey's Avatar
    I don't know Cory... you would think as "new media" becomes more and more common they would. I mean the ratio of people with smart phones is growing daily... I would assume that would mean more access to information in situations like this. In the short term I'm thinking Squawk is right.
  6. FtMyersgal's Avatar
    Nice blog Dewey.
    My immediate thoughts are if you look at the sky in the photo Dewey posted anyone with half a brain would see a storm coming. Do we know if a warning was issued to the folks at the stage?
  7. NavarreMark's Avatar
    Thats a dumb question Dewey. Any lawyer will tell you the entity at fault is the one with the deepest pocket.
  8. Jax82's Avatar
    I think the person to blame is the person who is in charge of delaying the show due to weather and whether or not they had knowledge of the approaching storm. (not the people who constructed the stage). That would be like suing your home builder if a F5 tornado leaves nothing but the foundation of your house there. If an announcement was made prior to the storm then wouldnt that be enough to let them off the hook, saying the warned the people? Its a tragic ACCIDENT. Unfortunately you have to think how many hungry LAWYERS went to the victims and told them that they will help them sue all these people, and if we dont win you dont pay a thing, and if we do win you money we get 40%. Nobody wins in this scenario, except maybe the lawyers. Ugghhhh.
  9. MaryMichell64's Avatar
    Based on the photo you posted, my arse and the arse of anyone with me, would have sought a safe place to ride it out....a car would have been safer than outside.
  10. SQUAWK's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by FLdewey
    I don't know Cory... you would think as "new media" becomes more and more common they would. I mean the ratio of people with smart phones is growing daily... I would assume that would mean more access to information in situations like this. In the short term I'm thinking Squawk is right.
    Here are some other things to consider:
    Not everyone is a weather geek like most of us.
    As an example I'll use my friends at work. Most of them have to come to me to find out if it is going to rain or snow or whatever. They do not pay attention to weather unless it is biting them on the ass, and then only if it really hurts.
    Having a smart phone does you no good for weather events unless you have something other than Angry Birds on it. Most of the people I know have nothing to give them weather warnings on the phone.
    When you are all hooked up in a rock concert, who pays attention to some clouds.
  11. FtMyersgal's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MaryMichell64
    Based on the photo you posted, my arse and the arse of anyone with me, would have sought a safe place to ride it out....a car would have been safer than outside.
    Exactly my thoughts Mary!
  12. Jax82's Avatar
    Also, if i remember correctly, when you buy tickets to events (like at a baseball game or concert or sporting event) isnt there a disclaimer on the ticket of some sort that removes liability (if you get hit in the head by a baseball, flying object, etc) from the event owners?I found this on a baseball ticket i went too last year.

    "The holder of this ticket assumes all liability and danger incidental to the game of baseball whether occurring prior to, during, or subsequent to the actual playing of the game, including specifically (but not exclusively) the danger of being injured by thrown bats, thrown or batted balls, and any vehicular damage by said balls or bats while being driven or parked at facility and agrees that the participating clubs, their officials, agents, and players are not liable for injury from such causes. All fireworks displays are subject to cancellation in the event of adverse weather conditions and no part of the purchase price will be refunded. "
  13. emcf30's Avatar
    I'm kind of worried that Indiana has their own Department of Homeland Security... but I'll save that for another blog.


    Then you should be worried the the City of Melbourne has their own Homeland Security office as does a lot of other States, Counties, and Municipalities.
    Granted, most of these municipalities use this title very loosely to scam or receive grants from the Feds, they do still exist.

  14. NavarreMark's Avatar
    This is an excellent blog though Dewey and it makes me think of a topic that is always near and dear to my heart, so I will now mention:

    NavarreMarks fishing tips for 2/22/2012.

    The water temps have been rising from our cold spells of the last 2 months and that is bringing redfish and specked trout into the shallows of the sound. Try fishing the areas near creek inlets and flats for best results. They can also be takin from around the bay bridge, either from a boat or the fishing bridge.

    The Pompano have arrived to the beaches and the pompano fishing is starting to get in stride. Locate a washout on the beach and use sand fleas or live fiddler crabs.

    If you can catch a good weather window for offshore fishing, the oil rigs to the SW are always your best bet. Latest reports are that the wahoo fishing is as good as it gets and alot of yellowfin are also being taken. Things should start heating up around the edge and the elbow. Wahoo and blackfin are being taken there too. Always look for weed lines going to and from offshore destinations. There will usually be something holding under the weed lines. Dolphin and cobia are always good bets.

    I spent most of the morning drinking coffee on the end of the dock fishing in the mirror smooth waters of the sound watching the occasional coal barge go down the intracoastal. Very peaceful.

    May your fishing experiences be equally enjoyable or better.

    Until then, fish on my friends.
  15. gomexwx's Avatar
    good read....first thought a person must take the responsibility for their own actions..Seems the media and the NWS had ample time to tell everyone they were coming and one look at that sky say's it all..
    I choose to stay in my house during hurricanes rather than evacuate so if I die there it was my choice...Just like it was those concert lovers choice to either stay or go knowing what COULD happen...They chose to stay
  16. FLdewey's Avatar
    That is a really good point Squawk... and dear lord E... I wonder if they have the authority to set up border check points?
  17. emcf30's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by FLdewey
    That is a really good point Squawk... and dear lord E... I wonder if they have the authority to set up border check points?
    All I got to say is when MPD pulls out the tanks and blocks off the Melbourne Causeway, slowly turn around and then haul ass.

  18. Scooster67's Avatar
    If I am reading correctly, the croud was notified at
    8:42 pm EDT: , Indiana State Police said that a warning had been issued to the crowd in the grandstand suggesting that they may have to take cover due to the incoming severe weather. However, witnesses reported that those in the direct path of the collapsing fly system did not evacuate per the announcement.
    and the stage collapsed at
    On the evening of August 13, 2011 at approximately 8:50 pm EDT at the Indiana State Fairgrounds during the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis between performances by Sara Bareilles and Sugarland the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage was hit by a high-velocity wind gust in front of a severe thunderstorm causing the stage to collapse.
    So, they had 8 minutes and there own eyes to see it coming, but decided to stay where they were? Sorry that people died, but the "act of God" is no ones fault. And as far as they people suing for "emotional distress".....I say, please!........get a life!
  19. gomexwx's Avatar
    Dewey...I am getting "Emotional Distress" from reading about death...how much money do you have???...


    you need a disclaimer
    that states not resposible for Emotional Distress
  20. Jax82's Avatar
    Tis is why I never watch the local news. Its filled with nothing but death, sadness, crime, fraud, burglary, school shootings, school standoffs, tim tebow, tim tebow, tim tebow. But, i'll watch the boating and fishing report.

  21. NavarreMark's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jax82
    Tis is why I never watch the local news. Its filled with nothing but death, sadness, crime, fraud, burglary, school shootings, school standoffs, tim tebow, tim tebow, tim tebow. But, i'll watch the boating and fishing report.
    I've attempted to provide the fishing report to help alleviate the emotional damage.

    Besides, everything makes me think of fishing. Vehicles make me think of fishing. Dogs make me think of fishing. Heck, even women make me think of fishing.

    Just the way it is.
  22. emcf30's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by NavarreMark
    I've attempted to provide the fishing report to help alleviate the emotional damage.

    Besides, everything makes me think of fishing. Vehicles make me think of fishing. Dogs make me think of fishing. Heck, even women make me think of fishing.

    Just the way it is.
    Yea, some women can definitely make you think about fishing. True Dat
  23. gomexwx's Avatar
    LOL
  24. NavarreMark's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by emcf30
    Yea, some women can definitely make you think about fishing. True Dat
    They even make me think about ice fishing.

    That should tell ya something. LOL
  25. emcf30's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by NavarreMark
    They even make me think about ice fishing.

    That should tell ya something. LOL

  26. Seawall's Avatar
    Great blog, Dewey. I'd obviously heard a great deal about this disaster, but never had seen the timeline of events. Very interesting and thought provoking.
  27. FLdewey's Avatar
    LMAO Gomex… I'll have to add that to the terms of use.
  28. kaiden's Avatar
    Very good blog Dewey. One entity that I did not see on the defendants list was the Indiana Lottery Commision, their name was ( Hooser Lottery Grandstand ) on the banner on top of the stage. It does give a lot to think about.

    I have a hard time with Jack Pot Justice, Place a flimsey cup of coffee tween your legs, burn your self, sue McDonalds for millions and win, crimany its hot coffee. They should of sued there parents for not teaching them better.
  29. TwinComanche's Avatar
    Are you a pilot?

    You think you have lived to be 80 and know who you are, then along comes someone and blows it all to hell!


    An old Marine Pilot sat down at the Starbucks, still wearing his old USMC flight suit and leather jacket and ordered a cup of coffee.

    As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him. She turned to the pilot and asked, Are you a real pilot?
    He replied, 'Well, I've spent my whole life flying planes, first Stearmans, then the early Grummans... flew a Wildcat and Corsair in WWII, and later in the Korean conflict, Banshees and Cougars. I've flown commercial passenger aircraft till I retired and taught more than 260 people to fly and given rides to hundreds, so I guess I am a pilot, and you?

    She said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked women.'

    The two sat sipping in silence.

    A little while later, a young man sat down on the other side of the old pilot and asked: "are you a real pilot?"

    He replied, 'I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian.'
  30. kaiden's Avatar
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