Abels & Annes

Bridge collapse at fireworks show sends at least 16 to the hospital

Bridge collapse at fireworks show sends at least 16 to the hospital
At least 16 people were hospitalized after a wooden footbridge collapsed at the conclusion of a fireworks celebration at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville, about 45 minutes south of Chicago.

Media reports were unclear about whether it was a public park. But injured participants could have a premise liability claim against the park owner or the company that provided the fireworks display.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene, estimating that the roughly 90-foot-long bridge was full of people before it fell, according to the Associated Press as reported by Fox News.

While authorities have released few other details, it is possible that event organizers allowed far too many people onto the 90-foot wooden bridge, which collapsed about 10 p.m., just as the grand finale concluded, sending people plummeting into the water below.

A dive team was called in to pull people and items from the water and the investigation continued through the weekend. There were estimates that thousands had attended the annual fireworks display at the park in years past.

“They had to rescue quite a few people,” Ross Township firefighter Perry Herzog said in a newspaper account.

Herzog said 16 people were transported to local hospitals for treatment. He said others might have been taken to hospitals by family members.

He did not know the nature of their injuries, and said there were no fatalities in the accident. About 50 emergency vehicles responded to the scene, along with helicopter and dive teams.

Robert Walker, of Merrillville, blamed the collapse on the number of people crossing the bridge.

“It was a mass of confusion,” he said. “People were walking across the bridge when it collapsed. People were grasping and hanging onto the bridge itself.”

Attendance at a professionally organized event comes with an expectation for basic safety. Just as fireworks organizers had a duty to make sure nobody was injured by falling debris from the fireworks show, they also had a duty to ensure the facilities were able to accommodate the expected crowds and to take appropriate safety precautions.

The maintenance records for the bridge may also reveal underlying problems that were not addressed.

If you or someone you love has been injured on someone else’s property, there are things you can do to help protect your rights. The Chicago personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. There is no fee unless you win. Call (866) 99-ABELS.