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Tents That Collapse During Severe Storms Puts Spotlight on Safety

A pair of deadly tent collapses are raising safety concerns. Last Sunday, a 35-year-old man was killed and more than a dozen injured when a tent collapsed on a crowd at the Prairie Fest in a Chicago suburb. The incident happened when a sudden storm brought high winds, hail and rain and ripped the tent from its moorings. People sought shelter under the tent just before the collapse. The festival is a four-day event with food, live music, a carnival and fireworks. There were around 5,000 in attendance when the incident occurred.

A day later, a man and young girl were killed and at least 22 others were injured after a circus tent collapsed when a severe storm swept through a New Hampshire fairground. Witnesses said it seemed that parts of the tent were briefly lifted into the air before slamming back down. The storm, packing 60 mph wind gusts and hail, blew through just as the first of two scheduled shows was beginning. One hundred people were in the tent when it collapsed. The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area about 20 minutes before the storm swept through the area, ample time for people to get to safety. It is unknown whether the spectators were aware of the storm’s strength. An investigation is underway including how the tent was constructed.

These tragic accidents beg the questions: Were the tents properly erected and secured? Were they able to withstand high winds? Were there communication and evacuation plans in place? As these questions, and more, continue, lawsuits could follow. Those responsible for the tent’s design and construction, and event organizers who may have failed to warn party-goers of storm conditions, may be liable for serious injury and death related to the incidents. After retaining an attorney, seeking justice may place a financial burden on the victims and their family. These plaintiffs may be experiencing problems paying bills, such as medical expenses, funeral expenses, mortgage, rent, and daily expenses due to the loss of wages.

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