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New Radiohead drum tech death inquest criticises “inherent deficiencies” in building of collapsed stage

By | Published on Monday 28 October 2019


A new inquest into the death of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson – this time taking place in the UK – has criticised “inherent deficiencies” in the construction of the stage which collapsed on him while he was preparing for a show in Toronto in 2012.

Coroner Nicola Mundy concluded: “Inadequate advice coupled with wholly inadequate construction techniques led to the collapse of the roof system which led to Scott Johnson’s death. It’s quite clear from what I have heard that the design and construction itself had inherent deficiencies within them”.

The latest hearing over the 2012 incident took place in Johnson’s hometown of Doncaster, following previous inquests and a criminal case in Canada. Johnson and three others were trapped under steel scaffolding when the roof of the open air stage at Downsview Park in Toronto collapsed shortly before doors were due to open.

The show’s promoter Live Nation, production firm Optex Staging & Services Inc and an individual engineer working on the show, Domenic Cugliari, were all charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health And Safety Act. The case eventually reached court in 2015, but after various delays it was then abandoned in 2017 due to a new legal precedent in Canadian law designed to stop criminal cases from dragging on indefinitely.

Last year, a new inquest in Canada made various recommendations as to what regulators could do to stop such a tragedy from occurring again. However, nothing as yet has come of those recommendations.

Speaking at the Doncaster inquest, Johnson’s father Ken welcomed the coroner’s comments, saying: “It’s exactly what we needed someone to say. 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. I will continue to support any changes to the rules in Canada”.

Also in attendance at the inquest were Radiohead, Keane and The Australian Pink Floyd Experience drummers Phil Selway, Richard Hughes and Paul Bonney.