President of circus company admits to criminal charges in fatal tent collapse

Fatal circus tent collapse plea

LANCASTER, N.H. (NEWS CENTER) - Nearly two years after a circus tent collapsed, killing two people in Lancaster, New Hampshire, the criminal case against the operator has been resolved.

The president of Florida based Walker International Events agreed to enter guilty pleas to several charges. 

In all, the company was hit with more than $80,000 in fines and penalties. The president is required to pay only a portion of that, $18,600. If he abides by the agreement he reached with the state, the rest of it will be suspended.

Appearing via video from Florida, John Caudill Jr agreed to plead guilty to 8 charges. The charges include reckless conduct, setting up a circus tent without a license and not properly securing the tent.

It was August 3rd 2015 when more than 100 people crowded into that tent for a circus show at the Lancaster Fairgrounds. Winds topping 90-miles an hour swept through just as the show was beginning. The tent and debris came crashing down on the crowd, killing Robert Young and his 8-year daughter Annabelle. Caudill and his company were not criminally charged directly for those deaths.

“The folks who lost their lives and the families, our hearts go out to them. This is little consolation, probably whatever we did. The Fire Marshals did a fantastic job investigating this, but there were certainly challenges bringing this forward", said Coos County Prosecutor John McCormick.

Instead the company was charged with 3 felonies and 5 misdemeanors for violations of state laws and codes. The attorney representing Caudill says the incident has devastated the business and his client personally.

“What my client and his company have gone through, has been nothing compared to those who were injured and killed in the tragic accident and that’s part and parcel of what I told the judge. My client couldn’t read the police reports, he was so upset”, said defense attonrey Michael Iacopino.

As part of the agreement, Caudill is not to operate or take part in another circus in New Hampshire again. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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