State to drop fine against Westfield High School after April stage collapse

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Aftermath of collapse from April 23, 2015

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Nov. 20, 2015) — The state has decided to drop its $11,700 fine against Westfield High School in connection with an April stage collapse that left 17 students injured.

The collapse happened on April 23 during a student performance of the musical “American Pie.” The stage buckled underneath their weight, and students fell about 10 feet. An investigation found steel support beams beneath the orchestra pit cover were removed so the stage could accommodate more students. The new cover wasn’t properly supported and collapsed while students sang and danced to “Don’t Stop Believin'” during the final act.

In October, the Indiana Department of Labor and Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration fined the school $11,700 in connection with the accident. Investigators said the new pit cover simply wasn’t strong enough to hold the students.

This month, the state decided to drop that fine, saying Westfield Washington Schools had taken proper measures to correct the problem. The school provided the following statement:

Westfield Washington Schools is collaborating with our public safety partners to ensure we exceed all safety standards. After we provided more information, the Indiana Department of Labor has agreed to amend the October 5, 2015 findings including that there will be no financial penalty. We understand that the agreement with the amendments will be posted by the Department of Labor soon. Westfield Washington Schools is committed to consistently assessing its workplace so that all employees are equipped to avoid safety hazards.

No criminal charges were filed in connection with the stage collapse after a review from the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.