Lessons from the Indiana State Fair Tragedy

There are lessons for K-12 schools in the report by Witt Associates on the August 13 State Fair tragedy.  The State Fair grandstand concert presented risks similar to spring school activities such as baseball games, baccalaureate and graduation,  and fall activities such as football, homecoming bonfires (a huge separate risk), and practice for the State Fair Band Contest.   In the mid 1990’s, we urged clients to be prepared to recognize the subtle signals of the probability of lightening at outdoor events.  In 2010, we advised clients about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s order implementing the “Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Safety Act”.  In that legislation, Congress responded to the death of the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III.  In that tragedy, the suction of a pool drain held the Baker child on the bottom of the pool.  Congress mandated action by the Consumer Product Safety Commission requiring pool drain covers that would prevent similar tragedies.  In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly mandated standards for dealing with student concussions in high school intramural and interscholastic sports, see Ind. Code 20-34-7.

In the Witt Associates report on the State Fair tragedy, by page 3, it is clear that very good and caring people were unsure who had authority to act and lost a brief opportunity to avoid the tragedy.  With benefit of hindsight, that situation required minute by minute weather updates and a single decision-maker authorized to take immediate action, rather than call a meeting.  School administrators can learn lessons from problems that occur elsewhere.   So we encourage school officials to look at page 3 of the Witt Associates report to see what can be applied to their activities.  The report is in the public domain, and easy to obtain thanks to The Indianapolis Star.   Go to: http://www.indystar.com/assets/pdf/BG187902412.PDF

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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