Fatal St. Louis tent collapse draws scrutiny
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis officials are expected to more closely scrutinize the large tents commonly set up near downtown stadiums after one of the temporary structures collapsed in high winds Saturday, resulting in the death of an Illinois man and dozens of injuries after a baseball game.
Sam Dotson, a spokesman for Mayor Francis Slay, said it’s unclear whether adequate regulations were in place and being followed Saturday or whether the disaster was simply the result of people not paying attention to severe weather warnings.
“This tent was inspected, but we need to make sure there weren’t modifications to it,” he said.
The fast-moving storm ripped a large beer tent at Kilroy's Sports Bar from its moorings and sent it and debris hurtling through the air about 80 minutes after the end of a St. Louis Cardinals game. Seventeen people in the tent were taken to hospitals, and up to 100 of the 200 gathered were treated at the scene, which was near Busch Stadium.
Mr. Dotson declined to identify any of the injured, saying only that they were taken to various local hospitals. Officials initially said five people had been transported in critical condition, but later announced all had been upgraded to serious.
Building Commissioner Frank Oswald said Kilroy’s was granted a tent permit on April 11 and that it passed inspection a couple days later. He said the city of St. Louis requires tents to be able to withstand winds up to 90 mph, but declined to speculate about whether the bar could face sanctions.
He and Deputy Fire Chief John Altmann cautioned that patrons need to understand a tent is not a safe place to be in bad weather.
“Tents are temporary structures,” Mr. Oswald said. “They are certainly not designed in any stretch of the imagination to handle weather like this.”
Mr. Dotson said Sunday that the wind gust that destroyed the tent - shattering the aluminum poles and blowing the structure onto nearby railroad tracks - was measured at more than 70 mph.
“I don’t know if the storms have gotten worse, or if we’ve just become more sensitive after [Joplin, Mo.] and the storms in the South,” he said, referring to tornadoes that killed hundreds last year.