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Monday, August 17, 2009

450 fall as bleachers collapse at St. Paul youth circus; ambulances transport seven to hospital

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Anonymous Pioneer Press said...

Ambulances take seven to area hospitals; others plan to seek medical care
By Jeremy Olson and Mara H. Gottfried
jolson@pioneerpress.com, mgottfried@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 08/17/2009 10:43:26 AM CDT

City inspectors this morning were on the scene of a St. Paul youth circus where bleachers collapsed and sent 450 people tumbling Sunday night.

St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections officials took a first look at the bleachers at Circus Juventas, and the Parks and Recreation director was also on the scene, said Bob Hume, spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

About 900 people rose to their feet about 10 p.m. to applaud the end of the show when half of the bleachers collapsed.

Ambulances took seven people to Regions and United hospitals, said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard. A baby was taken to Children's Hospitals and Clinics in St. Paul as well, he said.

Witnesses said several sections of bleachers — each about eight rows deep — collapsed sideways in a wave and caused people to fall on one another and pin one another to the ground.

"My grandmother bounced off the chair in front of me," said Annika Horkey, of Champlin, who was taking her frightened 9-year-old daughter Emma to a hospital because of pain in her ribs.

Performers from Circus Juventas, a youth dance and acrobat academy, were completing the final show of a three-week series titled "YuLong: The Jade Dragon." The show featured a dramatic series of dances, dives, tumbles and martial arts demonstrations from the organization's most skilled students.

"People were up on their feet," said St. Paul police spokesman Paul Schnell. "Everybody was excited. Whether that led to any kind of structural collapse — we don't know that yet."
Schnell said police would seek to determine the cause of the collapse at the academy's Big Top, in St. Paul's Highland Park. None of the injuries was severe, though some people might have broken wrists or ankles, Schnell said.

"I'm certain there will be a lot of bumps and bruises," he said. "The entire section collapsed."

Angela Weckwerth, 44, of St. Paul, walked from the event with two people supporting her by the arms.

"We were applauding the end of the program, and it went down," she said, "the whole north end."

Supporting one of her arms was Julie Tilka, who was eager to get to the hospital. Her 27-year-old daughter already had been taken there with a back injury.

Rescuers used four of the city's 11 ambulances for the incident, Zaccard said. Paramedics checked out an estimated two dozen people at the scene but they did not have to go to the hospital, he said.

Many others from the audience walked gingerly to their cars with plans to seek medical attention.

Jeremy Olson can be reached at 651-228-5583. Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares, this is just another issue to make DSI seem important.
Right Bill Dahn? Gotta aliminate that evil city department.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DSI should have cleared these bleachers prior to it's usage. How come it collasped then ?
To busy tagging landlords.

12:35 PM  

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