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Big Valley Jamboree Stage Collapse

IluvABbeef

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From the Edmonton Journal:

One person killed, 75 hurt at outdoor music festival

CAMROSE — Pandemonium was the scene at the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose on Saturday evening after the main stage collapsed in a severe storm, killing one person and injuring 75 others.

Two of those people were still in critical condition Sunday.

The Big Valley Jamboree released a statement early Sunday morning announcing that the rest of the festival had been cancelled.

Country singer Billy Currington was just finishing up his set at 6 p.m. when the sky turned dark and spectators began to run for cover from the open-air concert bowl.

“Everyone take shelter,” someone yelled from the stage as sand whipped up into the air.

Within seconds, a violent wind from the west blew over the audience’s white plastic chairs like dominos, then knocked down the scaffold-type stage.

Currington, his band and dozens of backstage spectators and crew were still on and underneath it.

The floor of the stage caved in and the entire structure of the stage collapsed into itself.

“It’s a (expletive) tornado,” someone yelled.

“I’m having a heart attack,” wailed someone else, in a panic.

Panicked festival goers crouched down into balls as if frozen in fright, while others fled for shelter.

Thunder, lightning and heavy rain continued to pummel the site as emergency crews worked to rescue trapped people.

Broken pieces of the stage dangled and blew in the wind.

It is not yet known if it was a tornado, but there was a weather warning from Environment Canada of a severe thunderstorm with high winds, hail and heavy rain for the areas around Camrose, Leduc and Tofield.

There had been no warning from festival organizers of the storm, and the stage had not been evacuated before it collapsed.

It’s estimated that black clouds could be seen approaching 20 minutes before the storm hit.

“All of a sudden, a big gust came and the stage just flew,” said Jaymee Tanasiuk, 18, who was huddled with her family in the middle of the concert bowl after the collapse. “It was crazy.”

Doug Collins, one of Currington’s guitarists, was on stage when the wind hit.

“I was playing slide guitar and I have to look constantly at my hands,” Collins said. “All of a sudden, I saw this blast coming at me and I ran off the stage.

“One amp started falling toward me and that’s when it got bizarre. That’s when I ran.”

Currington was OK, Collins said, but he was waiting to hear about one of the other band members, bass player Alex Stevens, whose whereabouts were unknown.

Two worried moms huddled in the pouring rain, waiting to find out if their children, who had been on stage, were safe.

“We’re missing kids, so we’re not OK,” said Karen Kulcher, whose daughter was on the stage when it collapsed. “I’m freaked.”

Asha Clent, a festival employee, had just given her friend a backstage pass when the storm hit.

“When I looked over, I saw all the sand lifting up and it funnelled around,” she said. “This sucks.”

Camrose police Insp. Lee Foreman said Edmonton fire heavy rescue was called to the scene. They were dismantling the stage Saturday night to make sure no one else was trapped. A crane was used to clear debris.

“All checks suggest (no one is still trapped), but we’re going to err on the side of caution,” he said.

Foreman said police had put out a call to evacuate moments before the storm hit. It’s not clear whether or not that message had been relayed to organizers or people in the concert bowl. Police were appealing to Big Valley Jamboree campers Saturday evening to stay put to keep emergency routes open.

The Big Valley Jamboree attracts crowds of up to 20,000 people daily. The jamboree is in its 17th year.

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© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Val ... story.html
 

peg4x4

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Saw this on the news-very bad-hope all the injured will be all right
 

hillsdown

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So many of my friends and family were there, as they go every year and we can't get a hold of them. My neighbors wife is there with her sister and he(my neighbor) tried all night to track her down ,cell phone lines were completely tied up. He finally took off at 10:30 this morning to try and find out just where they are and if they are OK. Camerose is 1 1/2 hours north east of us.

That storm did alot of damage around here as well, hay on the ground that we are trying to bale just blew away and I lost 4 trees at the end of my driveway that were struck by lightening. Thank God we and the animals are all safe. More severe storm watches on tonight as another mass is moving in. It is a little to reminiscent of Pine Lake disaster in 2000 that is 5 miles south of us.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of those there and I pray for the recovery of all those involved. Mother Nature, her wrath is not to be taken lightly.
 

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