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Florida company charged in Lancaster tent collapse


July 27, 2016
LANCASTER — Earlier this month, a Coös County grand jury indicted Walker International Events on one felony and seven misdemeanor charges stemming from the fatal tent collapse at the Lancaster Fairgrounds nearly a year ago.

The grand jury's decision was delivered shortly after County Attorney John McCormick received recommendations from J. William Degnan, the State Fire Marshal.

Robert Young, 41, and his eight-year-old daughter Annabelle, from Concord, Vt., were killed when strong winds led to the tent collapse on the afternoon of Aug. 3. Scores were injured in the incident, caused by a microburst during a severe thunderstorm.

The felony charge stems from Walker's failure to obtain a permit prior to setting up the tent. Misdemeanors relate to an array of other allegations, such as violations of fire and building codes, as well as reckless conduct.

The list of charges is the latest round of legal troubles for Walker International Events. In Feb., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, issued a notice of intent to fine Walker for workplace safety issues, based on an investigation into the tent collapse.

The proposed fines topped $33,000.

The business phone number for Walker International Events has been disconnected. The company is based in Sarasota, Fla.

Additionally, a website link for the company is no longer functioning. Walker has been in the circus business for about 25 years.

One week after the deadly incident in Lancaster, Walker resumed operations with scheduled events in Maine. The first show was performed in the open air, rather than under large tents, in the town of Sanford.

Martin Lord Osman
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