Radiohead Demands Apologies For Toronto Stage Collapse

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Radiohead is asking for public apologies from those responsible for a 2012 stage collapse in Toronto that killed the band’s drum tech Scott Johnson.

“Scott’s father Ken said that all he wanted was for those responsible to hold their hand up, admit responsibility and to make sure that it never happens to anyone else,” reads a message on Radiohead’s website. “We all acknowledge that no one intended for Scott to die.”

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

The band said only Dale Martin, owner of Optex Staging & Services Inc. of Mississauga, has stepped up. (“My people. Me. I’m responsible,” he told an inquest in Toronto earlier this year.)

“It is time for those others responsible to finally and publicly admit their part in this terrible incident,” Radiohead said. “We invite them to offer their apologies to Scott’s family and friends for what they have endured, and to our surviving crew for the physical injuries and the mental trauma they have suffered.”

Last month, a British coroner decided “inherent deficiencies” led to the collapse. Nicola Mundy also said she believes the jury's verdict at an inquest earlier this year in Ontario did not fully reflect the evidence.

The Toronto inquest 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.”

At the 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.”

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.”

Radiohead also heralded Mundy’s finding. “After seven years, two inquests and a trial that, as a result of a technicality, was never concluded, we finally have an answer,” reads the band’s message.

Charges against Optex, promoter Live Nation 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 …”

Public apologies are unlikely to be forthcoming out of concern that civil lawsuits by Johnson’s family are pending. His father told The Canadian Press this week: “I hope people would have apologized from day one. It would have had more sincerity. But nothing yet.”

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