OSHA Faults Circus Company In Tent Collapse That Killed Father And Daughter

Feb 18, 2016

The circus was at the fairgrounds in Lancaster.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

Federal regulators say that the circus tent that collapsed during a storm last year in Lancaster killing a father and daughter and injuring dozens of others hadn’t been put up properly.

Walker International Events, which ran the circus, is being cited for 14 “serious” violations of safety standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says.

Those violations include not properly anchoring the tent stakes.

In addition, with a serious storm forecast, the show should have been cancelled, says OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald.

“They failed to disassemble and take down the tent when winds exceeding 60 miles per hour were expected,” he said.

OSHA said it also found violations that endangered circus workers. Those include unsafe use of electrical equipment and failing to have fire extinguishers inside the tent where employees worked with open flames.

The fines total almost $34,000.

Walker International Events has 15 days to respond to the citations.

Officials at the company couldn’t be reached for comment.

Those killed were 41-year-old Robert Young and 6-year-old Annabelle of Concord, Vermont.

Almost three dozen people were injured.

In a statement OSHA’s New Hampshire area director Rosemarie Ohar Cole said “No enforcement action will bring the victims home to their families and community but we want to send a message to this and other employers to follow proper procedures at all times and take effective and appropriate action to prevent an incident such as this from ever happening again.”