NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KOLN) - A junior at Lincoln East High School is home from the hospital, and that's where he'll be for the rest of the semester, recovering from a brain bleed.
The stage the student fell off of at North Platte High School.
Seventeen-year-old Aedan Strauss was being carried by a female performer when they fell off the stage during District One Acts in North Platte Saturday afternoon.
Strauss and others in attendance say they were put in an unsafe situation because the stage had an extension that was painted black and hard to see.
Strauss was the lead male actor in the play.
"It's heartbreaking working so hard on a show for three months and then having to drop out of the competition, having it all end with such a life threatening and scary situation due to an unsafe stage," Strauss said.
North Platte's Public School Superintendent says they are reviewing the incident.
In a statement, Dr. Ron Hanson, says, "The North Platte Public School District administrative team is currently reviewing the incident that took place during District One-Act Plays on Saturday, December 7, 2019, at NPHS. We will release an updated statement once this review is complete. Again, all parties involved are in our thoughts and well wishes."
The NPPS released an updated press release on Monday:
The North Platte Public School District administrative team has conducted a review of the District One-Act Play incident that occurred on Saturday, December 7, 2019. At this time, we can confirm the following information. North Platte Public Schools was selected as the A-1 District Play Production competition site for our A-1 district as we were the only applicant who offered to host the event. This year our district consisted of the following high schools: Norfolk, Millard North, Lincoln East, Lexington, Omaha Bryan, and North Platte. The NSAA requires each host site/ tournament director to supply participating schools with multiple details about the site. These details include the dimensions of the stage and the lighting equipment that is available (https://nsaahome.org/play-production/, page 2, item 9). Schools were provided with these details as well as a scaled diagram of the NPHS stage. Please see Item 1 below.
The District Play Production guidelines ask performing schools to provide a diagram of the stage set they will use, a lighting plot, and special needs. Lincoln East did not provide a diagram, lighting plot, or submit special needs. On the day of the competition, they did ask if they could use the thrust as they had practiced doing so at home, from the diagram we previously provided. We notified Lincoln East that other schools had used the thrust and if they wanted to do so they could as well.
After reviewing the video of the students in questions, we have found the two students fell from the main stage, right, with spotlights lighting the area. It does appear that student one who was carrying student two stepped off of the 42 inches high main stage in a hurried motion. This misstep resulted in both students falling to the floor in front of the main stage area.
We have been in contact with Lincoln East and have no additional information to share about the injured student.
According to the district judges, no other performers fell from the stage during district play production performances this past Saturday.
We are saddened that this incident occurred, and our continued thoughts are with the Lincoln East Play Production team.
Dr. Ron Hanson, Superintendent
North Platte Public Schools
Dec. 8, 2019
A Lincoln East High School student was taken to the hospital after an accident at an acting competition. The incident occurred at North Platte High School on Saturday at around 1:30 p.m.
According to North Platte High School Activities Director Jordan Cudney, a female student was carrying a male student during a scene at District One Act plays when they both fell several feet off the stage.
17-year-old Aedan Strauss, the male student who fell off the stage, later said that the female student fell approximately 5 feet off the stage, while Strauss, being carried, fell around 9 feet.
"I was just in her arms and we were just walking across the stage and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. My ears were ringing and my head was pounding," Strauss said.
Strauss was taken to the hospital in North Platte and then transported by helicopter to the hospital in Kearney.
Strauss' mother, Joy McKinney said, "You don't want your son to be paralyzed like is he going to walk again. Is he going to be a vegetable."
Strauss is currently alert and stable in the ICU, where they are monitoring him for bleeding on the brain. The female student was checked out at the scene, but is okay.
"I remember just lying on that floor and not knowing what was happening to me," Strauss said.
Cudney said the stage was clearly marked with glow tape, but it was just a misstep that caused them to fall. A Lincoln East student, who wished to remained anonymous, said that the school should have done more.
Strauss said,"Our director kept warning us and said look where you're walking when you on that stage."
"We, Lincoln East, took every precaution we could to ensure the safety of performers that afternoon," said the Lincoln East student. "North Platte did indeed have markers on the edge of their extension, but they were small, old, and ineffective. They were completely invisible in darkness, and barely visible with lights on. Glow tape takes time and light to charge, and we sat over the tape we just applied with flashlights for almost all of our allotted 15 minute set up time."
The student also noted that a previous group had one of their actors fall off the North Platte stage during the competition.
North Platte Public Schools responded to the incident with the following press release on Sunday:
"Yesterday, December 7, 2019, a Lincoln East student performer, Aedan Strauss, was injured during District One Act performances. The entire staff and administration of North Platte Public Schools would like to offer Aedan well wishes on a speedy recovery.
Our thoughts are with him, his family, and fellow performers during this time. The North Platte Public Schools Activity Director, Jordan Cudney, has been in contact with the Lincoln East Activities Director. At this time, no additional information has been provided by Lincoln East.
Again, the Lincoln East student performers are in our thoughts and well wishes.
Dr. Ron Hanson, Superintendent
North Platte Public Schools