- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LANCASTER, N.H. (AP) - A judge on Wednesday ordered a Florida-based circus operator to pay $15,000 in fines for operating without a license in New Hampshire following a 2015 tent collapse that killed two people and injured dozens.

Sarasota-based Walker International Events pleaded guilty to the felony in a plea agreement. Lesser charges dealing with fire, building code and reckless-conduct allegations are to be addressed next week. Walker initially faced more than $200,000 in fines.

Robert Young and his 6-year-old daughter, Annabelle Young, of Concord, Vermont, died when a storm with 75 mph winds blew through the Lancaster Fairgrounds, toppling the tent just minutes after about 100 people had settled in for a show. Fifty others were injured.

The judge didn’t immediately rule in a separate hearing on a proposed settlement in a lawsuit filed by Young’s wife.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration previously found that Walker failed to properly erect the tent and ignored severe weather and high-wind warnings before the Aug. 3, 2015, storm. Inspectors determined the company failed to use required tent stakes, properly anchor the stakes or replace damaged stakes.

The agency also found hazards that put circus employees at risk of electric shock, burns and cuts, such as the use of inappropriate electrical equipment in wet areas and a lack of fire extinguishers in areas where employees worked with open flames.

The company, now out of business, has settled other lawsuits and agreed to pay federal safety fines.

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