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State to open new investigation into Westfield stage collapse

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) – Indiana’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a formal investigation Monday into the cause of last week’s stage collapse at Westfield High School.

The decision comes after the agency said last week it did not have the authority to investigate the incident, which sent 16 students to the hospital with various injuries.

“Because it appears at this point that no employees were involved, Indiana OSHA does not have jurisdiction to conduct a formal OSHA investigation,” Indiana Department of Labor Public Relations Director Bob Dittmer told 24-Hour News 8 Friday.

IOSHA reversed that stance on Monday.

“Based on additional  information gathered at the scene and over the past few days, IOSHA has launched a formal safety investigation of the Westfield stage collapse,” wrote Indiana Department of Labor Public Relations Project Manager Amanda Stanley in a statement to 24-Hour News 8. “This change was prompted as a result of discovering that employees were involved in the erection of the stage. This investigation will help to verify whether IOSHA has jurisdiction over the matter and if any OSHA regulations were violated.”

Last week, local theaters across the region said the incident would likely prompt a stronger focus on safety industry-wide.

According to Westfield Washington Schools Superintendent Mark Keen, the Westfield High School stage was built in 1997.

Additional agencies are still searching for an official cause of the incident.

“IOSHA will continue cooperating and assisting Westfield High School, the State Fire Marshall’s office, the State Police, and other state and local agencies also investigating,” Stanley said.

No timeline has been released yet on when the determination on a cause might be made.