ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - A deadly storm struck with little warning in downtown St. Louis Saturday afternoon as hundreds of baseball fans were outdoors celebrating the Cardinal's victory over Milwaukee. One man was killed when a tent at Kilroy's Sports Bar at Seventh and Gratiot was lifted up and tossed against a Terminal Railroad trestle.
Sunday afternoon, St. Louis Fire Department identified the victim as Alfred Goodman, 58, of Waterloo, Illinois.
The St. Louis Fire Department was not able to say what caused the man's death. The bar's owner Art Randall said firefighters on the scene told him the man was struck by lightning. Randall said his DJ was knocked unconscious by a flying audio speaker.
St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson was on the scene shortly after the accident. " This was a very grave situation that happened here; this was quick," the Chief said. Jenkerson said he believed high straight winds were to blame.
Seventeen people were taken to local hospitals. Five remained in serious condition Saturday night. Ambulances and paramedics from surrounding communities responded to the call for help. One hundred persons were treated on the scene.
A spokesman for the St. Louis Fire Department said the first ambulances arrived within seven minutes and immediately designated it as a "mass casualty" event triggering mutual aid calls.
Randall praised his customers for stepping forward to help treat the injured. Three of them performed CPR in an effort to save the man who eventually died.
Randall and his family were stunned by the force of the storm. "This was seconds.. absolutely. I was shocked it wasn't a train crushing all of us we've had derailments before. I thought that's what was happening," he said as he choked back tears. "I had probably, it seemed like 50 bodies scattered everywhere."
Scott Berry watched the storm come in from a nearby bar, Paddy O's. "No one really thought to take shelter until we saw the storm came out of nowhere; it hit so fast." He saw the Kilroy's tent fly up. "Unfortunately it happened so fast no one had any idea. It completely lifted up. It seemed like the draft caught underneath. It just completely ripped it up and smashed it," Berry said.
The St. Louis City Building Commissioner Frank Oswald promised a thorough investigation into the accident. He said the tent at Kilroy's had a proper city permit and had been inspected for adequate exits. But the structure and installation of the tent is up to the manufacturer's specifications, he said. Oswald said he believes such tents are supposed to withstand 90 mile per hour winds; however, this storm was not believed to have been that strong.
A second wave of heavy rain and winds blew through downtown after seven. Members of the media on the fatality scene and Kilroy employees took shelter in the basement of a historic ice house owned by the Randall family.