Rich Behm is a former scouting assistant for the Dallas Cowboys who was permanently paralyzed from the waist down after his spine was severed during the collapse of the team's tent-like practice structure in a severe storm May 2, 2009.
Practice facility collapse and injury
On May 2, 2009, the Dallas Cowboys tent-like practice facility provided by Summit Structures collapsed during a wind storm. The no-frills building was essentially a 100-yard football field with a few more yards of clearance all the way around. The roof was 80 feet high, the equivalent of an eight-story building. The collapse left Behm and 11 other Cowboys players and coaches injured. The two most serious injuries were Behm and Joe DeCamillis, the team's Special Teams Coach. DeCamillis suffered fractured cervical vertebrae and had surgery to stabilize fractured vertebrae in his neck, and Behm was permanently paralyzed from the waist down after his spine was severed.
About 70 people, including 27 players attending a rookie minicamp, were in the structure when the storm hit. Wind in the area around that time was clocked at 64 mph, a single mph shy of the threshold for a weak tornado. National Weather Service officials said a "microburst" may have pushed the wind beyond 70 mph at the top of the structure that was built in 2003. Most of the 27 players taking part in the mini-camp were drafted the previous weekend or signed as undrafted rookies. None of the team's veterans were involved. Coaches, support staff and media were also in the structure.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was attending the Kentucky Derby on Saturday when the accident occurred, did not stop to talk to media outside the team's Valley Ranch headquarters Sunday morning when he arrived or left. He later released a statement, "To the Behm family we extend our love, comfort, and the full support of every person and resource within the organization," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. "Rich is a courageous member of our family and someone for whom we care deeply. We ask for all friends and fans of the Dallas Cowboys to join us in embracing him and his family with their thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time."
After an outpour of support from fans the Dallas Cowboys established a trust fund for the family of Rich Behm. Bank of America, in conjunction with the Dallas Cowboys, they currently accept donations on behalf of Behm and his wife and three young children at Bank of America locations.
Rich Behm and Joe DeCamillis, the two most seriously injured members of the Cowboys staff in the May 2009 practice facility collapse, filed suit August 25, 2009 against several companies involved in building or renovating the massive tent-like structure. Behm and DeCamillis accuse all the defendants of negligence and two of conspiracy – of knowing at least two years before the collapse that the facility was unsafe and covering it up. Their lawsuits, filed in Dallas County courts, are the first stemming from the Irving facility’s collapse. The suits are based on documents that some companies gave to Branson on the condition of confidentiality. The conspiracy allegations target: the steel-framed facility’s designer and manufacturer, Canada-based Cover-All Building Systems, its U.S. sales and construction affiliate, Summit Structures, the Las Vegas consulting firm JCI. As previously reported in The Dallas Morning News, JCI helped Cover-All and Summit design reinforcements for the tent after a building-collapse expert discovered engineering problems. The facility underwent repairs in summer 2007 that the Cowboys believed were “a temporary fix,” the lawsuits say. They allege that Cover-All, Summit and JCI “were to design and install a permanent fix after the 2007 football season was over” but did not. Instead, they “agreed to hide and conceal the practice facility’s shortcomings,” the suits say. The suit was settled for $19.5 million.
- Cowboys Practice Bubble Collapse
- Associated Press (May 3, 2009). "Rich Behm, Cowboys Staffer, Paralyzed After Accident, Was One Of Three Hospitalized". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
-  Archived November 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Jerry Jones settles with Rich Behm, Joe DeCamillis over canopy collapse - ESPN Dallas". Sports.espn.go.com. 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2013-03-03.