An inquest into the death of Scott Johnson at a 2012 Radiohead concert is set to begin late this month, and an unnamed band member, as well as Johnson’s father, have agreed to testify in the proceedings.
Johnson, 33, was killed on June 16, 2012, when part of a massive stage structure crashed down just hours before Radiohead was due to perform at Downsview Park in north Toronto. Three others were injured.
The inquest will begin at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 25, 2019 at the Coroner’s Court and will include testimony from 25 witnesses. “They are going to speak about the facts, what took place, what happened in the days and weeks preceding the actual collapse,” said Prabhu Rajan, chief counsel with the Chief Coroner of Ontario.
“Understanding what happened on the actual day, who saw what and, importantly, what we are going to be hearing is from witnesses who are going to speak to the legal framework that existed at the time. Were there any gaps in possible safety protections?
“This is not about laying blame, this is not about pointing fingers; this is not about finding fault. It’s about understanding. It’s not about criticism, it’s about learning.”
Rajan said Johnson’s father, Ken Johnson, as well as a member of the band have both agreed to be a witness in the proceedings.
“Ken Johnson … has been very involved and we’ve been in regular communication with him and he will be attending the entire inquest,” he said.
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The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death and a jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar incidents.
Radiohead’s lead singer, Thom Yorke, has sharply criticized what he described as lack of accountability for the deadly collapse, and Johnson’s father has previously said he hopes the inquest will provide some answers.
Thirteen charges were laid in the case against the show’s promoter Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari and contractor Optex Staging under provincial health and safety laws.
The subsequent trial was derailed when the presiding judge declared he had lost jurisdiction over the case given his appointment to a higher court. That decision led to a senior justice declaring a mistrial and a new hearing was planned.
In September 2017, charges in the case were stayed after a judge ruled the matter took too long to get to trial.
“We had to wait for a prosecution under the Health and Safety Act to proceed and that took a number of years and unfortunately near the end of the proceeding – due to various reasons and legal decisions – the case did not complete,” Rajan said.
“Once the various appeal times had expired, it came to my office to conduct the inquest and because it was a construction death — under law, construction deaths are mandatory inquests.”
— With files from The Canadian Press.