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Investigation underway after Servite High stage collapses

Roman Catholicism

It was supposed to be the grand finale of the Red and Gold show, a decades-long tradition for the students of Rosary High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Fullerton.

Instead, the raucous and creative performance showcasing school spirit ended in a blur when the stage collapsed Saturday night, sending two dozen students to the hospital with minor and moderate injuries.

Investigators are now reviewing building permits to determine what restrictions applied to the stage. The performance took place at Servite High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Anaheim.

Red and Gold, a tradition at the school since the 1970s, is a six-week competition in which students are divided into two teams to prepare musical theater productions based on a theme.

"This is a wonderful school tradition that unifies the school community and deepens school spirit, loyalty and pride," said Ryan Lilyengren, a spokesman for the Diocese of Orange.

The finales have been performed at Servite High School in the past, he said.

A video posted to YouTube showed the tightly packed stage before the collapse Saturday night. In it, a large number of girls — police have estimated about 250 — shout and wave pompoms before the platform suddenly gives way.

A crowd of alumnae, faculty and family members watched the scene unfold, and many rushed to help.

The part of the stage that collapsed was an extension added in 1996, said Lt. Tim Schmidt of the Anaheim Police Department.

"It's a very nice, well-maintained building," Schmidt said. "But clearly there was way too much weight. That's what it looks like."

Two dozen students who complained of pain and possible broken bones were taken to hospitals. All had been released by Sunday, Schmidt said.

Permits for the stage probably would have included weight restrictions, but investigators are still reviewing city documents to determine whether such restrictions were in place and, if so, what they were. School officials have been "100% cooperative in the investigation," Schmidt said.

"They want to find the truth too," he said.

Anaheim police, fire officials and building inspectors are investigating the collapse, as is the Diocese of Orange.

paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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