Remembering the Cowboys Practice Facility Collapse

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Dallas Cowboys rookie tight end John Phillips helps search for trapped teammates and staff after the canopy covering the Cowboys indoor practice facility collapsed May 2, 2009.

    The Dallas Cowboys indoor practice facility collapsed in Valley Ranch one year ago this weekend.

    Winds just shy of hurricane strength ripped through the “bubble” structure during a rookie minicamp May 2, 2009. About 70 people were inside when the storm struck, including 27 players going through workouts.

    Those who were inside at the time said their memories of the collapse are still fresh.

    Todd Archer, a Dallas Morning News reporter, was pinned to the turf by rubble. Cowboys players freed him and others from the debris.

    “I couldn’t really move the thing off my feet, and I couldn’t wriggle my body around, and my head is covered,” Archer said.

    Eleven people were injured in the collapse.

    “I saw it, and I thought, ‘How did nobody die?’ And I still don’t know how nobody died,” said Mac Engel, a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram who was also inside.

    Two of the team’s staff members sustained life-altering injuries. Scouting assistant Rich Behm is paralyzed from the waist down because of a fracture to his Thoracic spine, and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis broke his neck.

    Both are suing the company that manufactured the indoor practice facility, as well as three of Jerry Jones’ companies that constructed and maintained the building.

    The Dallas Cowboys have also filed suit against Summit Structures LLC, the manufacturer. An attorney for the team said the company assured the Cowboys the bubble was safe.

    Stephen Jones, a Cowboys executive, even let his daughter’s lacrosse team practice inside it during bad weather, the attorney said.

    Summit declined to comment. But last week, it told customers with similar buildings to “take precautions to see that your building is not occupied during severe weather, such as snow, sleet, freezing rain or winds in excess of 35 mph.”

    NBC DFW's Grant Stinchfield contributed to this report.

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