Fans watch as the stage at the Indiana State
Fair collapses amid a gust of wind Saturday
night. Five people were killed and dozens more
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - A stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair turned a night out at a concert tragic for fairgoers in Indianapolis Saturday night.
At least five people were killed and 45 others injured.
Four of the people died when the stage fell. They have been identified as Tammy Vandam, 42, Wanatah, Ind.; Glenn Goodrich, 49, Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23 Fort Wayne; and Christina Santiago, 29, Chicago.
A fifth person, Nathan Byrd, 51, Indianapolis, later died overnight Saturday at the hospital.
There were some local residents among the injured. Shannon Walcott and 11-year-old Jade Walcott, of Erlanger, remain at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Shannon suffered a broken pelvis and ribs.
Jade is in critical condition with a head injury. Doctors have put her in a medically induced coma.
The entire incident happened in just a matter of seconds. Approximately 12,000 fans were waiting for country music act Sugarland to take the stage at the state fair’s grandstands shortly before 9:00 p.m.
Severe weather had entered Marion County before the concert, but was still minutes from arriving at the fairgrounds.
Indiana State Police, the agency responsible for security at the state fair, issued a timeline Sunday of what occurred Saturday. State Fair officials said an announcement was made to the crowd as the storm came in that fans could seek shelter at nearby Pepsi Coliseum if they felt they needed to get out of the weather.
The gusts of wind began to blow at about 8:49 p.m., about 25 minutes ahead of the thunderstorm’s arrival.
One concertgoer said just before the estimated 70 MPH wind brought down the stage it got very cold.
“We saw the dust from the track like a dust storm had come through. Then it started shaking everything and then the banner from the stage blew off and the lights started to shake,” she said.
Seconds later the entire stage collapsed, trapping people underneath. Fans standing in the area immediately in front of the stage scattered. Screams erupted from the grandstands.
Sugarland was about five to ten minutes from taking the stage when the accident happened. Band members posted updates on Twitter that they were okay.
“We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you'll join us. They need your strength,” the band said through the social media site.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said those who were at the show when the stage collapsed showed remarkable bravery.
“What I heard over and over and over again last night and through the night and this morning, was that individual Hoosiers ran to the trouble, not from the trouble, by the hundreds,” said Daniels at a Sunday morning press conference.
Daniels also defended the fair’s decision to not evacuate before the accident, say it was a freak wind localized to just one place many minutes in advance of a thunderstorm.
“What no one knew and it’s not clear to me at this stage how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized blast of wind in one place,” he said.
Indiana State Police First Sergeant Dave Bursten said there was no other damage found at the fairgrounds, including on the midway.
“That leads us to believe this was an isolated, significant wind gust,” Bursten said.
The state fair was closed Sunday. It will resume at 8:00 a.m. Monday with a memorial service for the victims.