Death of drum technician in Radiohead stage collapse subject of Ontario coroner's inquest

Five years after Radiohead's stage collapsed resulting in the death of a drum technician in a north Toronto park, CBC News has learned Ontario's chief coroner will hold an inquest into the incident.

Chief coroner to hold inquest into Scott Johnson's death after parents, band demand answers

Scott Johnson was working as a drum technician for British rock band Radiohead when he was killed in a stage collapse in Downsview Park on June 16, 2012. (Submitted by Ken Johnson)

Five years after Radiohead's stage collapsed resulting in the death of a drum technician in a north Toronto park, CBC News has learned Ontario's chief coroner will hold an inquest into the incident.

The long-awaited move was announced Thursday afternoon by the office of Ontario's chief coroner amid a campaign by the U.K. rock band, British MPs and a CBC News investigation. 

Scott Johnson, 33, was crushed beneath thousands of kilograms of bent and broken scaffolding from the outdoor stage in Downsview Park on June 16, 2012. Officials concluded at the time he was killed instantly. The incident happened hours before Radiohead was due to perform. 

The office of Ontario's chief coroner said a jury is expected to make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths. When and where the inquest will be held will be announced later, a statement said. 

"The inquest will examine the events surrounding Mr. Johnson's death," according to a statement.

Radiohead said the inquest doesn't go far enough.

"It does not bring those responsible for Scott's death to account, and it provides no justice for Scott and his family," the group said in a statement.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour spent a year investigating the stage collapse. (Richard Young)

"We urge the Canadian authorities to look more closely into their treatment of the Downsview stage collapse and indeed all workplace deaths to ensure that accidents such as this can be prevented in the future."

The band has been working behind the scenes with Ontario officials because of what they feel is a lack of answers and accountability about what caused the stage to crumple inward — despite a yearlong investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour and two court cases.

Radiohead had previously told CBC News it wanted to use its influence to pressure authorities to get answers and some small measure of closure for Johnson's parents, Ken and Sue. They had also been meeting with British MPs who wrote letters to the Canadian High Commission demanding something be done. 

Last September, Ontario court Judge Ann Nelson dismissed all 13 charges under Ontario health and safety laws in the case against Live Nation, Optex Staging & Services and engineer Domenic Cugliari, who had been hired to design the stage, because the justice system had failed in allowing the case to take far too long to come to trial. Proceedings began in Ontario Court of Justice in 2013.

Nelson ruled the inordinate delays had violated the rights of those charged to a timely hearing. The three defendants had all pleaded not guilty.

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that delays beyond 30 months for Superior Court cases and 18 months in provincial courts violate an accused's Charter right to be tried within a reasonable time.

More than five years after the collapse, an inquest has been called into Scott Johnson's death. (Ken Johnson)

With files from Katie Nicholson