At around 4 in the afternoon on Saturday, June 16, 2012, something terrible happened at Downsview Park in Toronto. A part of the stage constructed for that night’s Radiohead show gave way, plummetting to the ground and killing drum tech Scott Johnson.
He was killed by a video monitor that weighed 2,270 kg. He was 33. Three other members of the crew were hurt.
Radiohead was running late that day due to delays with the load-in. Had things gone according to plan, Radiohead was scheduled to be onstage soundchecking the moment the roof caved in.
What followed was a farcical train of investigations, 13 charges, lawsuits, countersuits, trials and, in the end, a mistrial that left everything unresolved. No one has been held responsible or accountable. An inquest is being planned, but no date has been set. (Here’s my story on the fiasco.)
The CBC obtained a Ministry of Labour report on the accident and found among other things that:
- The stage was not designed to hold 27,000 kg of gear.
- It wasn’t build to design to begin with.
- The devices used to weigh the various parts of the structure were inaccurate.
Radiohead hasn’t been back to Toronto since. Until now.
The band has two shows for the Scotiabank Arena (né The ACC) tonight and tomorrow (July 19 and 20), their first performances in the city since they played the Molson Amphitheatre in 2008.
Imagine how they’ll feel setting foot in the city and the province that has so far denied them and, more importantly, the family of Scott Johnson any kind of justice.
Tonight will be very emotional for the band and the crew. And you know that tonight’s stage will be the safest stage constructed in the history of stages.
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