COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Technical and organizational flaws, years in the making, led to the Texas A&M bonfire collapse last year that killed 12 students, investigators said in a sober, sometimes scathing, presentation Tuesday.
''A complex and dangerous structure was allowed to be built without adequate physical or engineering control,'' said Houston construction executive Leo Linbeck, who chaired the five-member commission appointed by the university.
Speaking to an arena of students and school officials, the panel also outlined safety violations from drinking to hazing on the bonfire site, but deemed them unrelated to the bonfire's collapse.
Structurally, the disaster's cause was internal stress on the bonfire from faulty log placement, and lack of proper containment of the logs from wires and cables. Another flaw, investigators said, was the absence of constraining cables wrapped around the bottom tier of timbers.
But, the panel said, these physical dysfunctions were ''driven by an organizational failure, which had its roots in decisions and actions by both students and university officials over many years.''
A 90-year-old tradition that started with a 1909 debris pile, the wedding-cake-shaped log ziggurat toppled on Nov. 18, crushing 12 students and injuring more than two dozen more. In the aftermath, a university that prides itself on unity and custom has had to reassess one of its dearest symbols.
The bonfire stack was too big, dangerous and complex for its student-led builders, the panel said.
A key flaw, the group said, was the lack of blueprints for the four-story structure built over about 100,000 hours' worth of work.
A&M President Ray Bowen said he accepted the report without disagreement, and would need about six weeks to decide if the bonfire tradition should live on, a question not addressed by the panel.
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