News: Stage Collapse

Indiana officials Sunday began investigating the collapse of lights and rigging at a concert stage at the state fair Saturday night that killed five and injured more than four dozen.
The rigging, brought down by a strong gust of wind, fell about 9 p.m. Saturday, minutes before the country duo Sugarland was set to take the stage.
Videos posted online shortly after the accident show plumes of gravel and sand lashing through a nearly pitch-black sky, moments before the rigging slumps and topples onto a screaming crowd in front of the stage.
At a news conference Sunday morning, Indiana State Police First Sgt. David Bursten confirmed that four people had died at the scene and a fifth overnight at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. More of the injured could die, he said, asking for people to pray for the victims.
Growing tearful at times, Gov. Mitchell Daniels Jr. of Indiana praised the hundreds of people who remained at the accident site pulling trapped concertgoers from under the collapsed rigging.
They “ran to the trouble, not from the trouble,” the governor said, before seeming to become overcome with emotion. “That’s the character that we associate with our state.”
Daniels said his wife, Cheri, who is a spokeswoman for the fair, and a daughter had been at the concert, which featured Sugarland. The musicians were not injured.
The governor characterized the episode as a “freakish” accident.
Stacia Floyd, 22, who watched the collapse happen at 8:49 from the grandstands with her boyfriend and 4-year-old daughter, described it as “the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. “There were people that were bawling; everyone was really scared, shaken up.”
Stagehands operating lights and equipment high above the stage plummeted into the crowd along with the rigging, according to concertgoers.
Witnesses said concertgoers, who initially fled as the rigging collapsed, rushed back moments later to help those caught in the debris as the thunderstorm rolled in. As emergency crews hurried to carry victim after victim out on stretchers, returning audience members and others lifted the giant metal scaffolding off people pinned beneath it, according to photos and video provided by Reuters. Around 10:30, police dogs were brought in to search for any remaining people trapped.
Most of the victims were in the VIP section, according to, a local NBC affiliate. The police identified those killed as Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Ind.; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago. The fifth victim, Nathan Byrd, 51, who died at Methodist Hospital, was an Indianapolis stagehand. Both the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state fire marshal’s office are to begin an investigation into what caused the collapse, said Cindy Hoye, the fair’s executive director, adding that according to weather reports, a highly localized windstorm with gusts of up to 60 mph blasted the concert site just before it happened. The rigging was supplied by an outside contractor and built by local workers, Hoye said.
Whether the fair acted swiftly enough or appropriately to a severe-thunderstorm watch issued before the collapse was still in question Sunday.
Moments before the crash, the audience heard an announcement that the concert might be postponed, and they should head indoors and return after the storm had passed, Floyd, the witness to the collapse, said. Bursten said that some people had begun to move from the site toward other shelters when the accident occurred.
But Floyd said few people left. “It could have been prevented if the place had been evacuated properly,” she said. “They knew the weather was coming; they should have evacuated it fast.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *