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- Posted on Jul 17th 2011 10:25PM by Jason MacNeil
The festival executive director added that the festival would review procedures to ensure such a near tragedy doesn't occur in the future. As well, refunds for those who attended the show will be available from July 25 to July 30, or concert-goers can hold onto their ticket stub to attend one of the days during the 2012 edition of the festival. Monahan also said Cheap Trick and their crew were "just relieved" they managed to get off the stage before the collapse (you can watch a video of the damage captured and narrated by Cheap Trick frontman Robin Zander after the jump.)
A sudden violent thunderstorm caused the Ottawa Bluesfest main stage to collapse during a performance by Cheap Trick on Sunday (July 17) evening, forcing thousands to flee the festival grounds, including the city's mayor.
Globe and Mail reporter Jeremy Torobin gave an eyewitness account to his national newspaper: "There were thousands of people running. The rain was pounding, pouring down sideways. It was insane."
The Ottawa Citizen reported nobody was trapped underneath the stage at the time of the incident but that one person suffered a broken leg. CTV News Ottawa, however, reported paramedics at the scene said one man was taken to hospital "with critical, life-threatening injuries after something pierced his abdomen" while also suffering a broken leg and pelvis. Meanwhile, two men aged 46 and 40 were taken to hospital with a neck injury and chest injury, respectively. Two others were treated for injuries to their knees and ankles at the scene.
A storm quickly appeared around 7:20PM with strong winds during the band's slot. The Citizen reported that after the stage collapse shortly before 8PM, concert-goers sought shelter at the nearby Canadian War Museum while the band "ran from the stage seconds before the stage collapsed." Roadies returned moments later to rescue the band's gear. (The drum kit, impressively, remained intact).
Bluesfest organizers made two posts via Twitter following the incident. "Official statement: There are no serious injuries on site," they wrote before adding that "due to extreme weather conditions, we have regrettably had to shut down all stages for the night."
Cheap Trick issued a statement on their site Sunday evening: "Severe weather hit the stage as Cheap Trick was performing at the Ottawa Bluesfest tonight. The stage blew down and collapsed. Everyone is shaken up but band and crew are all fine. Cheap Trick hopes that everyone who attended the show is also OK." The group also placed three photos on the site, one of the stage collapsed and another taken "just before it went down" showing the group performing but with dark clouds looming in the distance.
Other Sunday evening performers were to include Galatic, guitarist Joe Satriani and Death Cab For Cutie. "We are all okay. Band, crew, and drivers," Death Cab For Cutie singer Ben Gibbard said via Twitter while Satriani tweeted: "Roof comes down Cheap Trick! Thunderstorm is crushing us in Ottawa."
A report by the Toronto Sun early Monday (July 18) morning said 10 people sustained injuries. One man, 49, suffered "a traumatic injury" to his abdomen, upper leg and pelvis and was taken to a trauma center for further evaluation. Elsewhere, another male was being treated for possible spinal injuries while another concert goer, 46, was taken to the hospital suffering from chest pain. Other injuries included minor cuts, a twisted ankle and one person dealing with anxiety.
Although nothing has been officially confirmed, it appears one of the truck drivers for Cheap Trick might have been one of those injured. "Fortunately the band and crew are all lucky to be alive and we'll see you down the road," singer Robin Zander wrote on the band's Facebook page. "And all the best to our truck driver Sandy."
The other artists onsite also shared their shock and dismay about the freak incident.
"It was a miracle no one was killed today when the stage collapsed. Gear can be replaced, people can't," Gibbard tweeted. He also said the group would return to Ottawa "and play a proper show as soon as our schedule permits."
Meanwhile, bandmate Nick Harmer took to his twitter account moments after the incident. "Seriously. What. The F---." Harmer wrote. "Can only be thankful that stage blew backwards onto tractor trailers and not forward onto crowd. Still, awful to watch and hear." Hours later Harmer thanked the fans "for understanding how sad and scary today was ... We will be back, we will figure out a way." Harmer's wife Kate contacted him to ensure he and everybody else was okay. "All the things to worry about, and now I have to add 'stage falling on you' to the list," Kate tweeted, adding the YouTube video of the stage collapsing would give her nightmares.
According to the Toronto Sun, one of the injured taken to hospital with a head injury was a videographer who was shooting Cheap Trick's performance. We wish him, and anyone else hurt Sunday night, a speedy recovery.