Jamboree ends in tragedy

Construction cranes replaced country music fans Sunday at Alberta’s Big Valley Jamboree as workers cleaned up after a devastating storm that smashed into the main concert stage, killing one person and injuring as many as 75 others.

Donna Moore

CAMROSE — Construction cranes replaced country music fans Sunday at Alberta’s Big Valley Jamboree as workers cleaned up after a devastating storm that smashed into the main concert stage, killing one person and injuring as many as 75 others.

The concert bowl caved in after wild winds hit the popular annual festival in Camrose, about 100 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, around suppertime on Saturday.

Friends told CTV Edmonton the dead woman was Donna Moore, 35, a marketing assistant for the Town of Lloydminster, Sask., on the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.

She was killed when an enormous speaker fell on her.

Concertgoer Metro Gordey said he and another man tried to pull the woman from the wreckage.

“Her back was up, I rolled her over, she was all blue,” he recalled on Sunday. “I put my hand on her leg, the other guy put his hand on her leg, and we could not feel any pulse.”

Festival organizer Panhandle Productions Ltd., said two people remained in hospital in critical condition.

Officials said about 21 of the dozens of people who were injured had to be taken to medical facilities for treatment.

At a news conference on the site Sunday, officials made it clear that the storm struck with very little notice.

“RCMP informed us at 5:55 p.m. about unconfirmed reports that a possible tornado had touched down in the Nisku area (just south of Edmonton),” said Camrose police Chief Darrell Kambeitz.

“We had people on the stage at 5:57 p.m., and the storm struck between 5:57 p.m. and 6 p.m.”

Producer Larry Werner said his office also got a call saying a severe windstorm was heading directly for the venue.

“At that time I ran for the stage from our production office. (Nashville musician) Billy Currington was in the process of wrapping up his set and we immediately let him know he had to get off the stage so we could announce to the crowd that we had to clear the concert bowl.”

Werner paused Sunday when reporters asked him what he would say to people who thought there should have been more notice.

“What do you say?” he asked. “We worked with what we had to work with. I wish nobody was hurt. I wish it never happened. It did, and now we have to deal with it.”

Werner said producers have had to shut down the concert three times in the last 17 years. “The procedures followed for those weather fronts were the same as the procedures followed (Saturday).”

Neither Werner nor Kambeitz could say immediately why the structure failed, or how long it would take to get answers. Provincial officials are helping with the investigation.

Aaron Vandermeulen, 16, of Regina stood staring as the giant construction cranes carefully tried to pry apart twisted piles of collapsed metal stage supports.

The teen, who was helping to string cable for video cameras on stage when the high winds struck, absently touched a large scrape across his nose as he recalled the terrifying experience.

“One of the guys working in the sound booth came in and said, ‘You’d better get out of here.’ ” Vandermeulen said.

Just Posted

Central Albertans learn about farm life at Sunnybrook Farm Museum

Pioneer Days Festival in Red Deer Saturday-Sunday

Number of seniors who play bridge in Red Deer growing

Red Deer Bridge Club has been around for close to 60 years

PHOTOS: Buccaneers battle Wolfpack in AFL semifinal

The Central Alberta Buccaneers battled the Calgary Wolfpack in the Alberta Football… Continue reading

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

Central Alberta Yogathon cancelled Saturday

Due to air quality concerns the fourth annual event will take place Sept. 15

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Couillard march in Montreal’s Pride parade

MONTREAL — Thousands of cheering spectators lined the streets of Montreal on… Continue reading

All eyes on Andrew Scheer as Conservative convention set for Halifax

OTTAWA — After a week of internal caucus squabbles, Conservative Leader Andrew… Continue reading

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

In the wake of deadly flooding in the Indian state of Kerala,… Continue reading

Indonesia’s Lombok island jolted by multiple quakes

SEMBALUN, Indonesia — Strong earthquakes jolted the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok… Continue reading

Afghan president calls for Eid cease-fire, Taliban to reply

KABUL — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has called for a conditional cease-fire… Continue reading

Montreal may have less influence after October provincial election

MONTREAL — When Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault recently dismissed the… Continue reading

Privacy issue with online pot sales after legalization needs watching: experts

TORONTO — Buyers who have to provide personal information to purchase recreational… Continue reading

Range of reactions to possible holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

The federal government’s intention to enact a statutory holiday aimed at remembering… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month