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Prop drop brings concert to halt

Sunday evening's concert by the Lake Oswego Millennium Concert Band at Lakeridge High School auditorium was cut unexpectedly short when a prop came loose from its rigging and fell onto the stage.

'Fortunately, it landed first on one of the clouds suspended above the stage, which absorbed some of the impact before it landed on the band members below,' Lakeridge Principal Mike Lehman said. 'Two tubas were crushed by the impact. Fortunately the tubas may have served as head protection for the players. Emergency responders checked for injuries and sent one band member to the hospital as a safety precaution since he was hit on the head. According to witnesses, the injury did not appear to be serious or life threatening.'

According to the Lake Oswego police log, initially a call came in at 7:52 p.m. Sunday reporting the auditorium's ceiling had collapsed, although police and firefighters determined it was actually a ceiling prop that fell, injuring one person. The person was transported by ambulance to OHSU hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Lake Oswego Fire Department Battalion Chief David Morris said the object that struck the musician was a television prop recently used in the school's musical production of 'Willy Wonka' that was made out of 2-by-4 lumber and particleboard, measuring about 6 to 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. The frame fell from the sky loft area above the stage and fell at least 20 feet.

'At first, one of the white, hanging acoustical cloud light fixtures above the stage started to swing forward, with the lights pointed at the audience, and it almost looked like some kind of lighting effect for the show,' said Tracy Stepp, who was seated in the audience. 'But then a piece of plywood scenery fell down from what seemed to be 20 to 30 feet and crashed down to the stage. The wooden frame piece of scenery prop hit the light fixture first, and that slowed it down a little, or it might have crashed down even harder.'

The failure appeared to be isolated to the material that fell and did not involve any structural part of the facility. School district and fire department officials decided to cancel the rest of the performance.

Several musical performances are scheduled for the auditorium this week and next, and Lehman had the remaining suspended scenes and props used in 'Willy Wonka' removed so that only the suspended curtains, screens, light bars, acoustical clouds and other materials. left were those of the original installation. Students were not allowed on the stage until the scenes were taken down. The area is safe and performances scheduled will proceed as planned, Lehman said.

'We have not completed our investigation,' Lehman said. 'We want someone with more expertise to take a look at the pulley system and determine what it was that didn't work. Obviously, the rigging did come loose. Fortunately, according to (band director) Dale Cleland, the scene hit between two rows of performers and several were struck. I think there were three horns that were damaged, I think one has to be replaced and the other two could be repaired. The bottom line is, it could have been much worse than it was if those clouds hadn't been there.'

Lehman said he heard the injured musician was doing well.

Cleland agreed.

He reported that the musician who has been transported to OHSU was sore but was back at work.

The other two musicians injured in the incident 'got bumps on the head, but their instruments - a tuba, ephonium and a baritone saxophone - took most of the blow. All were very lucky,' he said.

Cleland said the LOMCB board was meeting to determine if they would reschedule the concert. The Review will publicize the new concert date if and when it is rescheduled.