COLLEGE STATION, Texas (CN) – Texas A&M University agreed to pay $2.1 million to settle a lawsuit over a bonfire tower collapse that killed 12 people and injured dozens more during a pre-football game pep rally nine years ago.
The university will pay $500,000 toward the settlement, and insurance will cover the rest, directing funds toward victims and their families, who filed suit against the university and the contractors hired to help construct the 59-foot tower in November 1999. School administrators claimed immunity from the suit, but an appeals court let the suit go forward.
The bonfire tradition, marking the Texas A&M-Texas rival game since 1909, has been held off campus since the collapse. The university has not said whether it will bring the bonfire back on campus, according to an official statement. The university promised to provide engineering oversight for any future campus bonfires, if they do occur.
In an official statement, the university said that it regrets that the 1999 bonfire “grew into a massive project without adequate design and construction supervision.” To create the bonfire, which attracted tens of thousands of people in the years before the accident, students would pile up thousands of logs in pyramid form. At the time of the collapse, an estimated 60 to 70 people were climbing the structure.
Cases against the construction firm who supplied a crane and crane workers for the event are still pending.