Madonna visits family of dead Marseille stage hand

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 19, 2009 at 7:10 PM EDT

Madonna won hearts in France Sunday as she visited injured survivors and the family of a stage hand who died during an accident which saw her concert date in Marseille cancelled.

The city's mayor paid tribute to the US pop star's "humanity" as she visited the home of 52-year-old French victim Charles Criscenzo's family in nearby Aix-en-Provence before tending to colleagues being treated in hospital.

The black-clad US pop star landed at Marseille-Marignane airport at 1615 GMT and sped off with a bodyguard in a black Mercedes to the house where Criscenzo lived, where a security perimeter had been set up to keep media away.

Two men, Criscenzo and 23-year-old Briton Charles Prow, were killed on Thursday with eight more workers injured in the accident when part of the stage being built at the city's Stade Velodrome collapsed.

The accident happened when a crane toppled over as they were preparing the venue for Sunday's concert, which was immediately cancelled.

Madonna -- whose two adopted children arrived with her in France, but left the airport in another car -- went on to visit three injured workers still being cared for in two Marseille hospitals.

One, an American, was in a serious condition Sunday, according to local health officials.

Madonna arrived mid-evening at the Mediterranean port's Conception hospital, without any official escort, and bearing a large bouquet of white roses, to visit a French technician who broke a hip in the accident.

Met at the hospital by city mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin, she made no declaration before escaping the crowd to tend to the injured stage hand and making her way to a second hospital.

Speaking for the city, Gaudin said "we are very touched that a singer of her stature and talent has demonstrated such extraordinary human qualities" with this visit.

"Madonna wanted to come and visit those injured and the families of those killed," the mayor's special events deputy Maurice Di Nocera earlier told AFP. "She wanted something private and discreet."

The singer was not, however, given permission to visit the stadium -- the home of Olympique Marseille football club -- with an accident investigation under way.

The US pop star, who was warming up for a concert in Udine, Italy when she heard of the accident, paid an emotional tribute to the two men as she performed there later Thursday night.

"Two men lost their lives, which is a great tragedy to me," Madonna told her fans as she choked back tears.

"I feel so devastated to be in any way associated with anyone's suffering. So let's all just take a moment to say a prayer for Charles Criscenzo and Charlie Prow."

"Our hearts go out to their families and their loved ones," said the singer according to footage of the concert posted on the Internet.

The investigation by French prosecutors could lead to manslaughter charges. A judicial official said they were looking in particular at a possible error in how the stage roof had been raised.

Firefighters said the roof of the giant stage became unbalanced as it was being lifted into place by four cranes, toppling one of the cranes which fell crashing onto the 60-tonne metal-and-cable structure below.

A stage technician, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the roof would normally have been hauled into place by four motors, but that one of these had been replaced on Thursday by the crane that collapsed.

Madonna left for Barcelona where her next tour date is a sell-out gig in the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, the latest stop in her almost year-long "Sticky and Sweet" world tour, according to her website.

Ticket reimbursements for the Marseille concert would begin on Monday, Madonna's publicists said.




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