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Radiohead: New Safety Recommendations Needed After Stage Collapse Inquest

2012 incident killed band’s 33-year-old drum tech Scott Johnson

Thom YorkeRadiohead in concert at The Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, America - 31 Jul 2018

Radiohead said they supported new safety recommendations provided by a jury that oversaw an inquest into a deadly 2012 stage collapse.

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Radiohead called for new safety recommendations in order to prevent stage collapses similar to the one that killed their drum tech, Scott Johnson, in Toronto in 2012. The statement, posted on Twitter, arrived after an inquest into Johnson’s death concluded Wednesday, with a five-person jury producing a set of 28 non-binding recommendations regarding safety and oversight rules for building temporary stages in Ontario.

“A verdict of Accidental Death was returned, which feels frustratingly insufficient given that the stage collapse was shown to be preventable,” Radiohead said. “The Jury have made sound and practical recommendations to prevent such an accident happening again and to ensure the future safety of show crews and audiences. It’s up to all of us now to make sure that these recommendations are implemented.”

The inquest was opened by Ontario’s chief coroner in March and featured statements and testimony from Radiohead drummer Phil Selway and Johnson’s father, Ken Johnson. The results of the inquest marked the end of a long and often difficult fight for justice and accountability.

Johnson was killed in June 2012 prior to Radiohead’s performance at Toronto’s Downsview Park when a piece of outdoor structure fell and crushed him (three others were hurt in the incident). In 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Labour charged the concert’s promoter, Live Nation Canada, as well as the scaffolding company Optex Staging and Services and engineer Domenic Cugliari under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Live Nation has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The case went to trial, but was plagued by delays, taking over 14 months, at the end of which, the presiding judge was appointed to a higher court, effectively negating his jurisdiction and leading to a mistrial. Then, in 2017, a new judge officially stayed the charges, citing Canada’s new trial time restrictions, which were established in 2016 and state that cases in provincial court should go to trial within 18 months.

Radiohead repeatedly voiced their frustration with the case as the delays mounted. After the case was officially stayed, the band said they were “appalled by the decision” and called it “an insult to the memory of Scott Johnson, his parents and our crew.” During a July 2018 concert in Toronto — the band’s first in the city since the 2012 stage collapse — frontman Thom Yorke said, “The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city. The silence is fucking deafening.”

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