The safety net pole that swung down and injured two Maine women after a Boston Bruins game last week is considered a piece of equipment that is not subject to city inspections, a city of Boston spokeswoman said Monday.
Nevertheless, an official from the city’s Inspectional Services Department met with the operations manager for TD Garden in Boston on Monday afternoon to check out the apparatus. The inspector was told that TD Garden is doing its own investigation and will notify the city when it’s complete, said Lisa Timberlake, a spokeswoman for the department. The facility’s assessment will determine what needs to be done to prevent such an accident in the future, she said.
TD Garden issued a statement Monday blaming the incident on a “mechanical failure” but did not answer questions from the Portland Press Herald about what part of the apparatus failed.
A team including an engineering firm and the company that installed the net are studying the cause of the mechanical failure, according to the statement from TD Garden spokeswoman Tricia McCorkle. The facility is replacing damaged parts of the safety net as well as any parts of the system that were stressed in the incident, she said.
“We are truly sorry that two fans suffered serious injuries caused by the safety net that fell … and hope the two fans have a full and speedy recovery,” the statement said.
Sabina Grasso, 21, and Anna McDonough, 20, were injured when the metal bar holding a large net fell on them after the hockey game between the Bruins and the Washington Capitals on Thursday night. They suffered cuts and concussions and were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. They are now recuperating at their parents’ homes in Cumberland Foreside and Scarborough, respectively, family members said.
“Sabina is stable but she is not improving,” Grasso’s mother, Terri, said Monday night.
Grasso said her daughter is going to miss her classes this week at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.
Grasso said Boston Bruins President Cam Neely left a voice mail message for her daughter on Monday inquiring about her well-being.
McDonough, who is staying with her parents in Scarborough, “is still in some significant pain,” said her father, Brian McDonough.
“I anticipate it will be a slow recovery,” he added.
McDonough said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from his daughter’s friends, relatives, and the community in general. He said she has received hundreds of texts, emails and telephone messages.
“Our focus right now is on the on the health of these girls. They are going to need a lot of rest,” McDonough said.
Nets are positioned behind each end of the rink at TD Garden to protect fans from pucks that fly over the boards and plexiglass surrounding the ice.
“This is considered a temporary piece of equipment, not necessarily anything structural. Normally these devices go up prior to a game and come down after the game, so normally we wouldn’t inspect them,” Timberlake said.
The nets are required in all National Hockey League and American Hockey League venues. The NHL mandated netting in 2002 after a puck hit and killed a 13-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio.
The Cumberland County Civic Center has netting, though it is currently packed for storage.
The net apparatus, which meets NHL guidelines, is supported along the top by 1-inch-square, heavy steel tubing. Similar tubing weighs about a pound for every foot. Multiple sections of the steel tubing are bracketed end-to-end to create the length necessary to hoist a net that covers the end of the rink
The one at the civic center is raised using cables and a winch, and during a hockey season remains in place, with the net bundled at the top and held in place by multiple Velcro straps.
Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department, said that agency is not involved in the investigation of Thursday night’s incident. The department was initially notified of the incident Thursday but was then recalled because TD Garden’s private EMS service was tending to the injured women, he said.
The Bruins’ next home game is Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: