Ultra festival begins on schedule despite stage accident
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Officials have given organizers of this weekend's Ultra Music Festival permission to clear debris off the main stage following the collapse of a lighting truss that sent three workers to the hospital Thursday night.
Federal inspectors with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the fire marshal and structural engineers all agreed the stage was safe to clear and open for the show.
City police and officials reviewed the accident scene Friday morning. The lighting truss, which contained heavy light fixtures and some large LED panels, collapsed as stage hands were hoisting it up during a stage setup. Rescue crews said the heavy screens fell about 30 feet and swung across a section of the main stage.
Three men were sent to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital after the truss fell on the workers. "Luckily, the crew that was here, along with the paramedics that were here working were able to remove the debris and get them to the hospital as quickly as possible," said Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll.
The impact injured one worker and trapped two others underneath for a few minutes. "It came down on two of them and one narrowly missed being caught by the debris, and one guy who witnessed it was pretty traumatized," said Carroll.
Two of the men who were listed in critical condition have been upgraded to stable as of Friday morning. However, on the night of the accident firefighters described some of their injuries as "life-threatening." Among the victims is Joseph Green, a 32-year-old stagehand who suffered fractures on both legs, as well as injuries on his ankles, hip and wrist. The third victim who was transported to JMH is listed in stable condition. Fire Rescue units treated a fourth worker at the scene.
Construction of all but the affected stage was completed in time for the start of the festival, Friday afternoon.
According to Carroll, inspectors and engineers are still trying to determine the cause of the fixture's collapse. "If this was a freak accident, let's make sure we don't have any other accidents happening on the other stages," he said. "They're also going to look and see if the wind may have been involved, or maybe something happened last night while they were doing the construction; something may have been knocked," he continued.
Event organizers released a statement that reads, "Festival organizers are working with, and supporting, authorities as they investigate the details behind the accident."
More than 300,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which is set to take place over the next two weekends, an expansion from previous editions.
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