UK Coroner Blames Toronto Stage Collapse On 'Inherent Deficiencies'

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A British coroner said Thursday that “inherent deficiencies” led to the 2012 collapse of a stage in Toronto’s Downsview Park that killed drum technician Scott Johnson.

Nicola Mundy also said she believes the jury's verdict at an inquest earlier this year in Ontario did not fully reflect the evidence.

Johnson, who was 33, was crushed to death when the roof of the structure fell only hours before Radiohead was scheduled to perform. Three other people were injured.

At an inquest in Johnson’s native Doncaster, Mundy heard evidence that the top of the stage was overloaded by more than 7,000 kg and the stage had not been properly assembled.

“Inadequate advice coupled with wholly inadequate construction techniques led to the collapse of the roof system which led to Scott Johnson's death,” the coroner concluded.

“It's quite clear from what I have heard that the design and construction itself had inherent deficiencies within them.”

An inquest in Toronto earlier this year ended with a ruling that Johnson’s death was accidental. In a statement shared on social media at the time, Radiohead called the verdict “frustratingly insufficient given that the stage collapse was shown to be preventable.”

Johnson’s father Ken called Mundy’s ruling “exactly what we needed someone to say.” 

He told reporters: “At least that information now should help people to acknowledge the negligence. My wife, Sue, will never forgive them for what happened. My feeling is that I don't think any of them went out to kill Scott. They went out to do their job, but it wasn't done very well.”

Among those attending the inquest at Doncaster County Court was Radiohead’s Phil Selway and Keane’s Richard Hughes.

“We still feel the loss,” said Selway, who remembered Johnson as a “lovely person, very sunny and very professional.”

Hughes said: “Clearly something went wrong very badly and it's incumbent on all of us to make sure it's not swept under the carpet.”

Charges against concert promoter Live Nation, scaffolding company Opted Staging and Services, and engineer Domenic Cugliari were stayed in 2017 because the case took too long to go to trial.

At the time, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke tweeted: “words utterly fail me …”

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