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Radiohead React to Findings on Crew Member’s Death, Urge Greater Safety Regulations

Radiohead has taken to social media to respond to a Canadian coroner’s inquest into the death of the band’s drum technician, who was killed in a stage collapse prior to a scheduled performance in Toronto in 2012.

“The inquest into the death of our friend and crew member,Scott Johnson, has now concluded,” the band’s statement read. “The inquest itself was conducted in a constructive, thorough and fair-minded way. It revealed the negligence and failings that led to Scott’s death.

“A verdict of Accidental Death was returned, which feels frustratingly insufficient given that the stage collapse was shown to be preventable,” the statement continued. “The Jury have made sound and practical recommendations to prevent such an accident happening again and to ensure the future safety of show crews and audiences. It’s up to all of us now to make sure that these recommendations are implemented.

“We’d like to express our gratitude to the Coroner’s Office and the Jury for their tireless work in the inquest. Our love and respect go out to Ken and Sue Johnson, Scott’s parents. He will be forever in our thoughts.”

The two-week public inquest had input from Radiohead drummer Philip Selway as well as the late drum technician’s father, Ken Johnson, engineers, festival stage workers and the owner of the company that constructed the stage.

“The system has failed Scott, his family and other industry workers,” Selway told the five-member jury.

On Wednesday, the jury proposed 28 recommendations, none of which are set into law — hence Radiohead’s plea to make them binding. The findings call for improvements in permitting, training  and licensing in stage-building in the province, along with further studies for guidelines to prevent such accidents.

On June 16, 2012, an hour before doors were to open for a sold-out show at Toronto’s Downsview Park, tens of thousands of pounds of metal scaffold roofing collapsed onto a stage where crew members were still setting up. Johnson was the only person killed, but three others were injured.

Charges were filed against Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari and contractor Optex Staging and Service — all of whom pleaded not guilty —  then dropped in 2017 because of a Canadian Supreme Court ruling that said such a case should have gone to trial within a year and a half. The inquest was subsequently brought by the coroner’s office in Ontario.

When Radiohead finally returned to Toronto last year, singer Thom Yorke told the crowd, “The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city. The silence is f—ing deafening.”

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