ANAHEIM, California (AP) — Investigators combed through a collapsed theater stage at a Southern California high school Sunday, trying to determine why it buckled during a performance that sent 25 students to the hospital with mainly minor injuries.
Police, firefighters and medics responded to a call Saturday night after the wooden stage gave way at Servite High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Anaheim.
About 250 students from nearby Rosary High School, an all-girls sister school, were singing and dancing on the platform when they fell five feet (1.5 meters), Anaheim police Lt. Tim Schmidt said.
Injuries included broken bones, bruises and scrapes.
The likely cause appeared to be too many students on stage and too much weight on the platform, Schmidt said. “It was a weight issue,” he said.
Inspectors will double-check the school’s stage permit to determine if it’s up to date. They will also review whether the permit included a weight restriction or a limit on the number of people who could be on stage. The investigation is expected to take two weeks.
The stage was extended out in the 1980s to provide more square footage, Schmidt said. It was the add-on that collapsed.
“We’re lucky that no one was seriously injured,” he said. “It was a quick, sudden collapse, and the students fell right away.”
More than 600 students, parents, faculty and alumni were in the auditorium at the time of the accident.
The students were performing in “Red and Gold,” Rosary High’s annual musical theater challenge since 1971, in which teams prepare for six weeks to put on choral, dance, drama and other performances, according to the school’s website.
“Thank you for your prayers and support during this time,” Rosary Principal Judy Luttrell said in a statement posted on the school’s website after the collapse. “We ask that you continue to pray for our students. We thank you all, the Servite community, and the responders for their calm assistance.”
In a statement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said it was “an unfortunate accident.” The diocese said an internal investigation was underway.
Servite High School was founded in 1958. Its sister school, Rosary, opened in 1965.
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