Sugarland Stage Collapses At Indiana State Fair
Sugarland’s stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair shortly before the band took the stage. CNN reports: A massive gust of wind brought down a stage at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday night, killing at least four and injuring 24, officials said. Jennifer, Kristian, and the band are safe, as posted on the band’s website: “We are all right after our stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair tonight. Many of our fans and friends in Indianapolis may not be. Please keep them in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever form of strength you are able to send. They need you. Thank you.”
“We are stunned and heartbroken for the fans and their families in Indiana,” Jennifer Nettles said. “We hold those injured in our prayers at this very sad time. There are no words. It is tragic.”
The Indianapolis Department of Public Safety posted on its Twitter page the death toll and said that 24 people had been taken to area hospitals. Two local hospitals placed the number of injured at 43, including some walk-in patients.Capt. Brad Weaver, commander of special operations for the Indiana State Police, said he took the stage at 8:45 p.m. to warn the audience of severe weather.
News update: At a Sunday morning news conference, ISP 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten confirmed that four people were pronounced dead shortly after the collapse and that another died early Sunday. He said the injuries to some victims are so severe that the death toll could rise.
While most of the injured were treated and released from Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, nine patients were admitted and still being treated Sunday afternoon, the hospital said. Three children remained at Riley Hospital for Children, the hospital said.
The Marion County, Indiana, coroner identified the three women and two men who died as: Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Indiana; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago; and Nathan Byrd, 51, of Indianapolis. Vandam, Goodrich, Bigjohny and Santiago were dead at the scene, while Byrd died later at the hospital, the coroner said.
Gov. Mitch Daniels described the collapse as a “freakish accident.”
At a press briefing after the accident, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard praised first responders working at the scene.
“Everything has been very well coordinated to respond to this event,” Ballard said.
He called the response “very orderly, very calm but at the same time. First responders have done a terrific job here tonight and they have the situation in hand even though it’s still a bit fluid.”
Indiana State Police Captain Brad Weaver expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the tragedy. He said a warning was issued to the crowd at 8:45 p.m. and the collapse occurred 10 minutes later.
Weaver said emergency crews responded to the scene and others helped lift the stage to get people out. Twelve ambulances were on the scene within 15 minutes of the collapse.
Weaver was reportedly at the event in plain clothes as a spectator.
State police say they were watching severe weather on radar and were carrying out an evacuation order when the stage collapsed.
Concertgoer Emily Davis, said that officials mentioned an evacuation plan, but never made an announcement to leave the scene. She said the accident happened very fast.
“They said, if need be, this is what we’re going to do and somebody will come back out and tell you, but they didn’t have time to come back out and tell us,” she said.
Charlie Morgan from Hank FM, which sponsored the concert, believes it was wind shear that caused the collapse.
He says the people in the “Sugarpit”, the area just in front of the stage, had closest access and bore the brunt of the falling rigging.
“I did not personally witness people leaving that area prior to the stage coming down,” he said.
Weather officials said winds in the area were in excess of 50 mph, including a gust reported around 77 mph near Plainfield.
“It was the most traumatic thing I’ve ever seen,” said Crystal Wilbur, witness.
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