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Storm collapses roof of theater, trapping concertgoers and killing man


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BELVIDERE, Unwell. — One individual died and 40 had been injured Friday when the roof of a live performance venue collapsed from a storm, authorities mentioned, a strike on the coronary heart of a city reeling from a manufacturing facility closure final month.

Twister sirens went off in downtown Belvidere at 7:24 p.m. Friday, authorities mentioned, when greater than 200 individuals had been on the Apollo Theatre for a live performance headlined by Florida-based steel band Morbid Angel. It was unknown whether or not these on the live performance had heard or responded to the siren.

About 23 minutes later, the Apollo roof collapsed, mentioned Boone County Emergency Administration Director Dan Zaccard. Some concertgoers had been trapped underneath the rubble, and others rushed to free them, pulling individuals from the particles, officers mentioned.

Zaccard mentioned individuals on the live performance tried to assist the one that died, a 50-year-old man.

“He was underneath the particles,” Zaccard mentioned at a Saturday afternoon information convention. “He was already gone.”

Officers mentioned the quick response by concertgoers and first responders had prevented a worse tragedy.

“If it wasn’t for his or her fast actions, and the truth that they had been planning for this storm and had been ready, issues might’ve seemed rather a lot totally different right this moment. However due to that, we had lives that had been saved,” Illinois Emergency Administration Company Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau mentioned, referencing the fireplace division’s search-and-rescue effort.

Shawn Schadle, town’s hearth chief, mentioned in a Saturday information convention that he didn’t know whether or not the one that was pronounced lifeless on the scene was working on the venue or attending the live performance. Officers declined to establish the person.

Two individuals had life-threatening accidents, Schadle mentioned Saturday, and about 40 had been handled for his or her wounds.

OSF Saint Anthony Medical Middle spokesman Paul Arco instructed The Washington Put up on Saturday afternoon that the Rockford hospital was treating 12 sufferers, ages 14-47; two had been in vital situation.

Morbid Angel, the band that was to headline Friday’s present, shared its “deepest and heartfelt condolences to the household and pals” of the one that’d died.

“We misplaced a brother in Metallic final evening, and plenty of had been damage and injured on this tragedy,” the band posted to its Fb web page Saturday afternoon. “We want to categorical how actually grateful we’re for these in attendance (Followers, Venue Workers, Bands and Crew) that assisted with getting individuals out and to security.”

The band additionally thanked first responders, whom it known as “true heroes.”

The storm was certainly one of many who introduced destruction to the Midwest and South over the weekend, dropping lethal tornadoes and slicing energy to 700,000 prospects every week after a minimum of 26 individuals had been killed by extreme climate.

On Saturday morning, dozens of residents gathered in downtown Belvidere to observe development crews navigate the rubble across the century-old Apollo, the place the crumpled marquee had crashed into the sidewalk, a part of the roof mendacity in the course of the road.

The theater was a go-to spot within the metropolis, mentioned resident Dave Weiner, 54. The previous movie show had turn out to be a well-liked venue for quinceañera celebrations and all-ages live shows, together with the Friday-night present.

“It’s one of many solely issues for the youth to do on the town; now it’s gone,” Weiner mentioned.

He had been down the highway on the Buchanan Avenue Pub, the place it was a smaller crowd than standard with the present occurring.

“Between 7:30 and eight p.m., the ability began flickering, and TVs had been giving out warnings, he mentioned.

The subsequent morning, police and hearth crews nudged onlookers apart as some puzzled what would occur to the constructing. Belvidere, a metropolis of 25,000 individuals, roughly 70 miles northwest of Chicago, is going through stiff financial challenges after a Jeep meeting plant went darkish final month.

Bob Flynn, 66, surveyed the broken theater whereas holding Shorty, his Jack Russel Terrier.

“The individuals who owned it put plenty of money and time into it. It was good for the neighborhood,” Flynn mentioned. “Now it’ll be like a ghost city.”

Maria Martinez purchased the Apollo together with her brother Eduardo Avila greater than 25 years in the past so their household might revitalize the constructing and the neighborhood it served, based on the Rockford Register Star.

She had changed the roof twice by 2017, the newspaper reported on the time.

Nobody instantly responded to messages The Put up left at numbers listed for Martinez and Eduardo Avila on Saturday morning.

The Apollo is a historic website and landmark in Belvidere, so essential to the city’s id that the mayor described it as “sort of like our model.” The constructing had been renovated lately, Mayor Clinton Morris mentioned at a Saturday information convention.

Though the constructing has been condemned after the storm, engineers will decide whether or not it may be salvaged; cleanup might take weeks, officers mentioned.

McDaniel reported from Washington.

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