On July 31, 2015, a twenty-one year old University of Alabama student died in Amarillo, Texas as the result of a fireworks explosion.
Petyon Trueblood was working as a stage manager for a musical production at the Pioneer Amphitheatre in Palo Duro Canyon State Park when the explosion happened. At the time of the explosion, Trueblood was taking inventory in a facility storing at least 1,600 rounds of fireworks.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an investigation on the same day. The investigation found that the producer of the musical, the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation, committed six serious violations for failing to do five things: train workers on the use of explosives; provide fire retardant clothing; perform a hazard assessment; and develop a written hazard communication program. Each of these violations resulted in a $7,000 penalty.
OSHA’s director in the area, Elizabeth Linda Routh, stated, “A 21-year-old worker, with three months of work experience under her belt, lost her life because the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation failed to provide appropriate training and protective equipment to workers handling pyrotechnics.”
Peyton’s parents recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Amarillo’s U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, naming the executive director and three pyrotechnic contractors for the musical as defendants. The decision to file a lawsuit was in part prompted by revelations from current cast and crew that policies regarding pyrotechnics remained unchanged.