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25 injured as California school stage falls

Dozens Hurt As Stage Collapses During H.S. Performance

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Investigators combed through a collapsed theater stage at a Southern California high school Sunday, trying to determine why it buckled during a performance and sent 25 students to the hospital, some with broken bones but most with minor injuries like bruises and scrapes, authorities said Sunday.

Police, firefighters and medics responded to a call Saturday night after the wooden stage gave way at Servite High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Anaheim.

About 250 students from nearby Rosary High School, an all-girls sister school, were singing and dancing on the platform when they fell 5 feet, Anaheim police Lt. Tim Schmidt said.

One girl who was on the stage behind the collapsed area said it was the last of several performances and everyone was feeling great when things went suddenly wrong.

"We were all jumping, having fun, we've done it five times before, and then all the sudden the girls in front of me just disappeared," 14-year-old freshman Sabrina Lee told KABC-TV on Sunday afternoon. "I don't know what happened. All I knew was I turned around and ran."

Witness Stephanie Stevenson told the TV station "everyone was jumping around like crazy" when "the very front row just completely fell under. We were all in shock."

More than 100 students, staff and family members from the high school gathered on Sunday to pray and show support for the injured.

The cause appeared to be too many students on stage and too much weight on the platform, Schmidt said.

"We're lucky that no one was seriously injured," he said. "It was a quick, sudden collapse, and the students fell right away."

Inspectors will double-check the school's stage permit to determine if it's up to date. They will also review whether the permit included a weight restriction or a limit on the number of people who could be on stage. The investigation is expected to take two weeks.

The stage was extended in the 1980s to provide more square footage, Schmidt said. It was the add-on that collapsed.

More than 600 students, parents, faculty and alumni were in the auditorium at the time of the accident.

The students were performing in "Red and Gold," Rosary High's annual musical theater challenge since 1971, in which teams prepare for six weeks to put on choral, dance, drama and other performances, according to the school's website.

"Thank you for your prayers and support during this time," Rosary Principal Judy Luttrell said in a statement posted on the school's website after the collapse. "We ask that you continue to pray for our students. We thank you all, the Servite community, and the responders for their calm assistance."

In a statement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said it was "an unfortunate accident." The diocese said an internal investigation was underway.

Servite High School was founded in 1958. Its sister school, Rosary, opened in 1965.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
raydar67 March 10 2014 at 7:13 PM

Sorry,but jump up and down on something not designed for this type of use,WILL eventualy break.

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dave1marine March 10 2014 at 12:58 PM

If you do the simple math, even at a conservative estimate of 100 lbs. each for these girls, you have 25,000 lbs. JUMPING up and down on that stage.
School officials had to have been out of their minds for allowing that.

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1 reply
brodywilliams11 dave1marine March 10 2014 at 1:18 PM

your math is a little off. lol about 22,500 pounds off to be exact

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2 replies
mcrebel brodywilliams11 March 10 2014 at 1:28 PM

250 students time 100 pounds equals 25,000. Your reading is a little off...Dave was correct.

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pH brodywilliams11 March 10 2014 at 1:50 PM

Close enough for engineering work!

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stevemontani March 10 2014 at 12:26 PM

I hope this moves Gov. Jerrry Brown to ban on the number of potential victims a stage is allowed to hold!

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2 replies
MIKEY'S SCREEN stevemontani March 10 2014 at 12:44 PM

He would never do it.

After all, the Democrats are famous for attempting to add more people to a stage area than required.

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1 reply
kklinvt MIKEY'S SCREEN March 10 2014 at 1:39 PM

Just dumb. Overreaching a little are we?

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abcstarfox stevemontani March 10 2014 at 6:20 PM

It is NOT a public school so Brown will not have a say.

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dbuttaccio March 10 2014 at 11:50 AM

Stand by for lawsuits galore to the school system.

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Hello Joe March 10 2014 at 11:49 AM

I've built stages so I'm wandering how incompetent someone has to be to build one that would give way like that?

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4 replies
merhoff2 March 10 2014 at 11:42 AM

Prayers for all.

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Melissa ! March 10 2014 at 11:34 AM

:-( so scary and so sad. i hope everyone recovers soon.

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1 reply
stevemontani Melissa ! March 10 2014 at 12:28 PM

anda SAD face too!

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nevadan99 March 10 2014 at 10:44 AM

Stages should be outlawed. They hurt and kill people.

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gosoaring10 March 10 2014 at 10:23 AM

250 X 100 (typical student weight) 25,000 pounds + jumping = a huge amount of weight on the stage structure. People just don't think about that sort of thing. Stay off of patios/decks etc. if there is a lot of people on them.

I remember some years back hearing about the Bay Bridge in San Francisco being close to overload when hundreds of thousands of people joined in a yearly bridge walk--scarey, very scarey.

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1 March 10 2014 at 2:20 PM

Simple overload was not the cause of the failure. The required design load for a stage is 150 #/sq-ft. People cannot even be friendly enough to approach this. A 300# girl on a space 16"x18" yields 150 PSF. Packed this tight they could not move, let alone jump and dance. Also, the design is based on allowable stresses that are less then the actual material properties. Faulty design and/or construction is the most likely culprit.

As for the speculation below, I offer the following quote:
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology."
-- Carl Sagan,
American astronomer

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