Family, friends, and members of the Catholic community around Fullerton offered prayers during Sunday services for about 25 high school students who were injured in a dramatic stage collapse in Anaheim Saturday night.
The students — from the all-girls Rosary High School in Fullerton — were finishing up their annual “Red & Gold” performance at Servite High School in Anaheim just before 11 p.m. when the stage buckled and collapsed, dropping students into a changing room below, according to police and witnesses.
“They all ran up on the stage and they all started jumping around, that’s when the stage collapsed,” said Steven Olona a sophomore at Servite High who was in the audience and knew some of the injured girls. “There was a crash. There was screaming and there was also silence.”
At least two hundred girls took part in the performance. Injuries were limited to broken bones, bruises and scrapes, according to authorities. Some who’d seen the stage collapse said they were relieved the injuries were not more serious.
“I ran down and jumped into the pit to give aid if I could,” said Michael Mungaray, who watched his 11th grade daughter perform and leave the stage just before it collapsed.
He said he saw about half a dozen girls lying on top of each other wedged between broken parts of the stage and theater equipment.
The part of the stage that collapsed, Mungaray said, is a five-foot extension that’s newer than then main stage on which the performance took place.
“It just gave them more room. It’s been there for a number of years from what I understand,” he said. And that raises concerns for him about what communication there was to keep large numbers of performers off this part of the stage.
One of the performers, Nicole Herbeck, told a cameraman on scene that her team was dancing their finale to Beyonce when the platform gave way.
"I mean the stage was pretty old. I've never felt unsafe when there. But there were so many girls on it, and I think we were going so hard and so into it that it just collapsed and gave out," she said. "All the sudden, we just dropped."
You can see the full interview here:
The Red and Gold Rally is an annual drama and dance competition that's been held at the school since 1971.
Servite and Rosary are about five miles apart.
At St. Juliana Catholic Church, the parish next to Rosary High School, the priest officiating morning mass urged parishioners to pray for the girls’ quick recovery.
“At the end of mass, he just asked everyone to please pray for all the girls who were injured,” parishioner Joanne Campanella said outside the church.
On Sunday morning Servite High and Rosary High posted a statement outside the Anaheim auditorium.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the students and their families.”
This story has been updated.