Charges stayed in 2009 fatal stage collapse in Alberta

All charges have been stayed in the August 2009 collapse of a stage at the Big Valley Jamboree that killed a 35-year-old woman.
The main stage at the site of the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alta., lies in ruins after a storm in August 2009. (Canadian Press)

All charges have been stayed in the August 2009 collapse of a stage at Alberta's Big Valley Jamboree that killed a 35-year-old woman.  

Three companies — Nashville's Premier Global Production Company, Panhandle Productions and a numbered Alberta company — faced 33 charges under Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act in the stage collapse, which killed Donna Moore, 35, of Lloydminster, Alta.

The Crown filed a stay of proceedings on Thursday, said Alberta Justice spokesman Josh Stewart.

Donna Moore, 35, was killed in the stage collapse. (Canadian Press)

"After carefully reviewing and consulting with [Occupational Health and Safety] investigators, also the defence counsel, the conclusion was reached that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction on any count," Stewart said.

"So all 33 charges have been stayed."

A stay of proceedings means the charges can be resurrected if new evidence comes before the Crown within the next year.

Festival producer relieved

The stay of proceedings came as a relief to Larry Werner of Panhandle Productions.

"We never felt that there should have been charges in the first place," he said. "With having the charges stayed, we're quite happy right now. It takes quite a load off."

The stage at the annual country music festival near Camrose, Alta., buckled after a fast-moving storm hit the area on Aug. 1, 2009.

The charges weren't laid until late July 2011, on the final day of the two-year window for doing so. They included failing to ensure the stage was designed properly and failing to ensure the safety of workers.

Stewart said it was a complicated case and a number of factors were considered in the review.

"Some information became available after charges were laid," he said.

"After reviewing the totality of all the information provided by the investigators, the Crown simply had to conclude that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction."

Stewart said he is unable to discuss what the new information is as the matter is the subject of civil litigation. Moore's children are suing the promoter, the City of Camrose and several companies for more than $5 million.