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Police ‘were aware’ of Prairie Fest death storm

Wood Dale PD was aware of the storm which killed festivalgoer Steven Nincic but decided against evacuating attendees from a flimsy tent

By IQ on 19 Jan 2016

Wildwood storm damage, 3 August 2015, Illinois, Sky's the Limit Dronography

Property damage in Wildwood, Illinois, caused by the storm which hit Prairie Fest


image © Sky's the Limit Dronography

The death of one festivalgoer and the injuring of nearly two dozen more at a suburban festival near Chicago could have been prevented had the festival site been evacuated by police ahead of a major storm.

Thirty-five-year-old Steven Nincic was killed when a tent collapsed at Prairie Fest in Wood Dale, Illinois, on 2 August 2015.

According to police communications obtained by the Chicago Tribune, Wood Dale Police Department was aware of the storm but decided against evacuating attendees to a nearby school, with which it had a “tentative agreement” to use the building for shelter.

A lawsuit on behalf of the victims says festival organisers shouldn’t have gathered visitors together under a poorly secured tent

A lawsuit on behalf of the victims – which also included an 81-year-old woman, Lorraine Nocek, whose family claim later died of her injuries – states that the festival’s organisers shouldn’t have gathered visitors together under a poorly secured tent in the storm.

The tent was supplied by a firm called Classic Party Rentals.

“[Classic Party Rentals] supplied tents, tables and various equipment,” says the victims’ lawyer, Michael Progar, “but they obviously didn’t organise anything.” Classic Party Rentals has denied the claim.

Prairie Fest is organised by the office of the manager of the city of Wood Dale and a committee of officials, although the city is not a defender in the lawsuit.