N.H. Fire Marshal: No Safety Inspection On Circus Tent That Collapsed, Killing Two

Aug 4, 2015

Update at 3:30 p.m.

Authorities say the father and daughter who were killed when the circus tent collapsed during the storm were from the town of Concord, Vermont.

They were identified Tuesday as 41-year-old Robert Young and 8-year-old Annabelle Young. Fire Marshal William Degnan says an autopsy showed they died of blunt force trauma.

Degnan said members of the Walker Brothers International Circus have been cooperating with investigators. He said the circus operator did not file a "place of assembly permit" with the town. He said state law would need to be examined further to decide whether a criminal violation would apply.


Neither state nor local safety officials had inspected the tent that collapsed, the state's chief fire marshal, Bill Degnan. said Tuesday.

"There is a place of assembly permit required and we are tracking that down at this time."

He also said about 32 people – all spectators - went to area hospitals.

"There are some serious injuries but we haven't got the updates this morning."

News crews and reporters from throughout New England gathered in Lancaster for a news conference Tuesday moring.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

He declined to identify the father and daughter who were killed, saying the next of kin were being notified. But autopsies are being conducted to determine the precise cause of death.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning about 20 minutes before the storm hit.

And Degnan says it was the responsibility of the circus operators to warn spectators. It was unclear whether that happened.

Officials from Walker Brothers Circus have declined to talk to investigators until they can consult their lawyer, Degnan said.

But he said at this time there is nothing to indicate criminal charges are warranted.

He said the investigation will include how the tent was set up including where anchoring cables were connected.