INDIANAPOLIS: Five people died and more than 40 people were injured Saturday when a strong wind gust toppled the rigging on the stage just before country band Sugarland was scheduled to perform. In a moment that eyewitnesses described as both terrifying and in slow motion, the massive rigging above the stage bearing lights, sound equipment and at least one crew member swayed menacingly and then came crashing down on fans waiting for the band to take the stage.
Four of the victims died at the scene: Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne; Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago; Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah; and 49-year-old Glenn Goodrich of Indianapolis. Nathan Byrd, a 51-year-old stagehand from Indianapolis who was atop the rigging when it fell, died overnight. An Indiana State Police spokesman said that those hospitalized suffered a range of injuries from minor to critical. Local hospitals had set up triage and family reunification rooms. At least one of the injured is a 7-year-old boy, according to local media reports.
The fair reopened Monday after being closed all of Sunday while authorities investigated the collapse site and inspected whether the structure was assembled according to requirements. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels who was attending a memorial service at the fairgrounds today for those killed, called the accident an “unthinkable tragedy” and said the wind burst was a “fluke” that no one could have foreseen. Dan McCarthy, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Indiana, said the burst of wind was far stronger than gusts in other areas of the fairgrounds.