Tag Archives: Events Gone Wrong

Soap Box Derby – A Risky Event

Soap Box Derbies have become increasingly popular events to hold but with these kinds of events, it is important to know just how dangerous they can be.

For those unfamiliar with what a Soap Box Derby is, it is a youth soap box car racing program that has been run since 1934 in the United States. Soap box cars competing in these events are unpowered, relying completely upon gravity to race down a hill.

Serious injuries, and even deaths have occurred at these types of events so if you are considering holding a Soap Box Derby, you should be aware of just how risky they are.

How The Lawsuit Filed By Victims of Deadly SXSW Crash Will Impact Events

On March 13, 2014, Rashad Owens sped away from an officer after being stopped for suspicion of DWI and drove the wrong way on a one way street, plowing into a crowd of SXSW attendees, wounding 22 and killing 4.

On December 19, 2014, the victims and their families filed lawsuits against the two private companies that own the festival, SXSW Holdings INC, and SXSW LLC, the traffic design consultant SXSW hired to oversee the road closures, as well as Rashad Owens.

The victims and their families are claiming the tragedy was avoidable and as it was reported from local NBC affiliate KXAN, “[The lawsuits] claim SXSW
planners did not adhere to ‘industry standards’ for traffic control and took ‘inadequate’ steps that allowed ‘a dangerous opportunity’ for an errant vehicle to enter the festival zone and given Federal Transportation and Texas guidelines, that rigid barriers should have been deployed.”

With this deadly accident and recent lawsuit, one can only imagine how not only SXSW 2015 will be affected, but also how festivals and other special events nationwide will be changed to prevent future tragedies.

How Will SXSW Events Be Impacted?

In the case of SXSW, according to a report by the City of Austin released in September, crowd management issues, including traffic congestion, are the biggest problems. The
report also highlighted that two major issues that must be addressed are alcohol
consumption and over-programming for a venue’s capacity, whether that be indoor or
outdoor.

SXSW planners have long argued the problem is non-sanctioned “splinter” events that draw over-sized crowds with free alcohol into downtown venues that aren’t equipped to handle that many people. More than 75 temporary permits for events were issued during the 2014 festival in Austin’s central business district — an area that already has nearly 200 permanent establishments with liquor licenses — and in 2015, the city is looking for ways to rein in this number.

Members of the Austin Center for Events, the city’s regulatory authority for permitting
outdoor special events, have declined naming any specific course of action the city is
considering to further regulate the 2015 SXSW festival, but they have emphasized that public safety and the well-being of Austin’s residents and visitors are at the forefront of the decision-making process.

A Change.Org petition started just this month calls for at least the rigid barriers be added by SXSW organizers. The petition currently has 579 signatures.

As of January 6, 2015, the city of Austin’s music and entertainment division released an
interactive graphic
showing the various do’s and don’ts for the festival to dispel any myths about acquiring a permit for the 2015 South By Southwest festival.

2015 SXSW Events Permit Graphic

With the typical permit crunch running from now until mid-February, SXSW festival
organizers are hoping the graphic helps event planners and companies outside of Austin learn about the city’s regulations for the festival.

What Steps Can Be Taken To Prevent Similar Tragedies At Other Events?

As mentioned above, event organizers who are holding events near public roads should strongly consider the following:

– Use rigid barriers that can absorb and deflect vehicles away from massive crowds.

– Prepare an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers facing workers, including overcrowding, crowd crushing, being struck by attendees, violent acts and fire.

– Train all employees regarding emergency plans and also share them with local public safety agencies.

– Most importantly, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have the proper event insurance coverage for whatever your event may be.

Hayrides in Many States Face Few Regulations

Did you know? The regulation and inspection of hayrides are often left up to state or local municipalities, resulting in little to no regulation at all. Check out the article below from USA Today discussing recent hayride incidents.

USA Today
By Ryan Adair, WCSH-TV, Portland, Maine
October 13, 2014

MECHANIC FALLS, Maine — As authorities investigate the death of a teen this past weekend in a hayride accident that injured 22 others, some are taking a closer look at regulations that these seasonal businesses must follow.

No federal agency regulates hayrides. While the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office inspects amusement park rides here, hayrides don’t require licensing, officials said.

“The injuries that occur with hayride accidents are usually quite significant because of the number of people involved and the size and weight of the equipment,” said Jeffrey Reiff, a Philadelphia personal-injury lawyer who has filed several suits against hayride operators.

Some states, including Tennessee, specifically exempt people participating in hayrides from wearing seat belts, according to a compilation of state vehicle occupant protection laws from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Others — including Connecticut, Texas and Wyoming — allow people to ride in an open-bed pickup or flatbed truck, an action normally prohibited, if they are on a hayride.

“The regulation, inspection of hayrides is often left up to state or local municipalities, and as a result, regulation varies from none to semi-good,” Reiff said.

Among other recent hayride accidents:

• Crystal Coffman, 35, of Park Hills, Mo., was seriously injured Oct. 4 when she fell off the fender of a tractor on which she was sitting during a hayride in Farmington, Mo. The tractor then ran over her.

• Robert Bentz, 59, of New London, Minn., died Sept. 6 when he fell between two hay racks tied together so a tractor could pull them for a hayride in Woods Township, Minn.

• Nine people went to the hospital in October of last year after a tractor-pulled hayride tipped over in Milford Township, Mich. The driver later was found to have a blood-alcohol level just below the legal limit and was charged with reckless driving.

• Eleven children were taken to the hospital in July 2013 after the arm that attached a trailer being used for a hayride to a tractor broke at a camp in Molino, Fla. The trailer then hit the rear of the tractor, causing the tractor to tip over and the trailer to crash into nearby trees.

• Eight people went to the hospital in June 2013 in Findlay Township, Pa., when a tractor pulling a hay wagon at an anniversary party overturned.

This past weekend, Cassidy Charette, 17, of Oakland, Maine, died of head injuries Saturday after the wagon in which she was riding careered down a hill in the woods, struck a tree and overturned.

Student Connor Garland, 16, of Belgrade, Maine, who had gone with Charette to Messalonskee High School’s homecoming the previous weekend, was the most seriously injured of the 22 and is now in fair condition. David Brown, 54 of South Paris, Maine, who was driving the 1979 Jeep that was towing the wagon, had surgery Saturday and was released from the hospital Sunday, authorities said.

About a half dozen other injured people remained hospitalized early Monday, but their injuries did not appear life threatening, said Sgt. Joel Davis of the state Fire Marshal’s Office. A mechanical problem caused the accident.

Brown is an experienced trucker who has a commercial driver’s license, according to a spokesman for Harvest Hills Farm, where the wreck occurred.

State fire marshal’s investigators are inspecting the Jeep to try to determine exactly what kept it from stopping on the hill, and state police have been calculating the passengers’ weight to determine if the hay wagon was overloaded, Davis said.

Read The Full Article

Brawl Breaks Out At Wedding Reception

“I do” turned into “let’s get ready to rumble” for one couple outside of Buffalo, NY. when a brawl broke out at their wedding reception on Saturday, September 13th.

The Buffalo News reported that seven police agencies were called to the scene at the Orchard Park Country Club after a massive fight broke out just after 11 p.m., as the reception ended and guests were readying to go home. “Things were said that can never be taken back,” says one witness; the paper reports that family members were yelling of their hatred for each other.

About 200 people attended the reception and WIVB reported that an arriving officer saw at least 100 people fighting. The bride and groom were reportedly not among those fighting but the groom was witnessed attempting to help guests exit.

One man received stitches for a head injury, and a few others were treated on the scene. No arrests were made, and while the State Liquor Authority has opened an investigation into what transpired.

SLA spokesman William Crowley said authority investigators are reviewing the incident because the country club has a liquor license.

“The Orchard Park police did reach out to our enforcement office and we are in contact with the Police Department,” Crowley said.

And in regards to the property damage at the club?

“We still are waiting for the damage estimates from management at the country club,” Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholec said, “but it would be up to the country club to pursue restitution. That would be a civil issue.”

Criminal mischief charges could be pursued if witnesses identified people who destroyed property, the chief said.

Benny Chieffo of Jammin’ Sound, which provided music for the reception, described the couple as excellent people whose goal was to provide a joyful time for their wedding guests.

“It was a beautiful ceremony at the country club and an excellent reception that followed,” Chieffo said. “I just hope that the guests don’t forget about the beautiful wedding. It was a picture-perfect wedding except for that last half hour.”