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Investigation of Cowboys facility collapse begins

 Firefighters investigate the collapsed canopy that covered the Dallas Cowboys indoor football facility in Irving, Texas, on Saturday, May 2, 2009. Fo...
 Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bobby Carpenter looks over the collapsed canopy that had covered the Cowboys indoor football facility, Sunday, May 3, 2009,...

Cowboys Canopy Collapse Football

Firefighters investigate the collapsed canopy that covered the Dallas Cowboys indoor football facility in Irving, Texas, on Saturday, May 2, 2009. Fo...

Cowboys Canopy Collapse Football

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bobby Carpenter looks over the collapsed canopy that had covered the Cowboys indoor football facility, Sunday, May 3, 2009,...

Government investigators began sorting through the Dallas Cowboys' flattened practice facility Monday, trying to figure out why fierce winds sent the tentlike structure crashing down during a rookie workout session.
Twelve people were hurt, including Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, who underwent surgery Monday to stabilize a fractured vertebrae in his neck. The most seriously injured was Rich Behm, the team's 33-year-old scouting assistant who was permanently paralyzed from the waist down after his spine was severed. Assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither, 35, had surgery on his fractured right leg. Both DeCamillis and Gaither are expected to get out of the hospital this week.
Inspectors were at the collapse site Monday, said Elizabeth Todd, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA, which investigates workplace accidents, has six months to make a report, she said.
Records obtained by The Associated Press show the city of Irving granted the Cowboys' request to replace the fabric roof last year, five years after the structure was built. The team listed itself as the contractor for the roof replacement, but Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said the team would not comment about the work.
The records do not show the Cowboys sought an inspection of the facility after replacing the roof, although city code requires it, according to Gary Miller, Irving's director of planning and inspections.
"In a perfect world, there's some report from an installation company or an engineer in there, but we don't have it," Miller said.
The company that built the facility _ Summit Structures LLC of Allentown, Pa. _ issued a statement that said proper engineering was used during the original construction and the installation of the new roof. Summit president Nathan Stobbe said he was in Irving on Monday, working with team and local officials to "fully assess this severe weather event." The company said it has few answers so far about precisely what happened.
About 70 people, including 27 players at a rookie minicamp, were inside when the storm hit. Winds were clocked at 64 mph (103 kph), 1 mph short of the threshold for a weak tornado. A "microburst" may have pushed the wind beyond 70 mph (113 kph) at the top of the structure, National Weather Service officials said
Behm, DeCamillis and Gaither were standing on the field when the $4 million structure gave way, sending framework, lights and other debris crashing to the ground.
None of the players were hurt. Coaches, support staff and media were also in the no-frills building, essentially a 100-yard football field with a few more yards of clearance all the way around. The roof was 80 feet (24 meters) high.
Media were restricted from the Cowboys headquarters for at least a week because of ongoing work that is scheduled to take place in the aftermath of the accident.
Summit lists on its Web site several other facilities it built, including one at Texas A&M and one for the New England Patriots. The company also built the Windstar Casino just across the Texas-Oklahoma border.
The A&M facility is a $35.6 million project that includes both a football practice facility and an indoor track. A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said the school has had no problems with the project, completed late last year, but will re-evaluate its policy on bad weather practices considering the collapse in Irving.
"Our facility was put to the test this past fall when Hurricane Ike hit the Texas gulf coast," he said in a statement. "Our buildings withstood the high winds and our football team was not in the facility at that time."
At the University of New Mexico, which also has a Summit-built football practice facility, associate athletic director Scott Dotson said the collapse hasn't generated significant concerns there.
He said the school's facility "has been tested with some strong winds and held up."
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Associated Press Writers Stephen Hawkins in Arlington and Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-20 04:09 GMT+08:00