Shoddy construction is being blamed for several injuries sustained when a wooden dome used as a climbing obstacle in a race collapsed last fall in St. Francisville, Louisiana in October of 2016. Witnesses mentioned that there were between 20 and 30 people on the dome. The dome was the third of 12 obstacles of the Warrior Dash obstacle race. At one point, it started to sway to the side, and then slowly crashed to the ground. The Warrior Dash races are held in cities around the country. They feature several obstacles, which often will include ponds, mud, and large objects that participants must climb and crawl over. The races are organized by Red Frog Events.
The obstacle in question is called the Diesel Dome, which is promoted on Red Frog’s website as a 30-by-50 foot wooden dome “with views of the ground that will ignite your vertigo.” Participants in the race had noticed that the structure appeared to be structurally unsound several hours before it collapsed. One participant said that the structure started to lean, then it slowly collapsed by falling to the left. Those that were injured didn’t get treatment for 10 to 15 minutes, the participant said, “because nobody from the event staff knew anything was wrong. The operations manager for Acadian Ambulance, Justin Cox, said that three of the patients were airlifted and seven more were taken to the hospital in ambulances from the event site at the West Feliciana Sports Park.
In August of this year, nearly a year after the accident, authorities filed five arrest warrants against Red Frog, accusing the company of shoddy construction and failing to follow safety procedures, including checking on construction, monitoring each obstacle during the race, and having a staffer at each obstacle to monitor safety. “It truly is a thousand wonders that other structures did not fail,” said Brant Thompson, Louisiana’s deputy state fire marshal. He said that there were young children stationed near the obstacles. They were given radios and told to keep an eye on safety, but they were never given instructions regarding how many people should be allowed on each obstacle at a time. Asked for clarification, he said many safety monitors were about 13 or 14 years old. Thomson also stated that the obstacle included construction defects, such as using smaller boards than were specified in the original plans and nails that were inadequate for the type of lumber that was being used. When boards became detached from the mainframe, they simply patched them up but did nothing that would hold the load of the participants on the platform. In total, five Red Frog employees have been charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of negligent injury, while two employees—contractors Marcus M. Edwards and Daniel L. Lauren—also face one felony charge each of “engaging in contracting without authority.”