Sugarland Stage Blows Down At Indiana State Fair

Posted: August 15, 2011 in News
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Two nights ago one of the scariest things that could happen in the concert industry happened in Indiana. Right before Sugarland was to come on during the Indiana State Fair, a large storm brewed up and large gusts of wind blew the stage over. According to this article, the opener, Sara Bareilles, had just finished her set and Sugarland was getting ready to come on. Bareilles says,

“The accident at the Indiana State Fair felt like a bad dream. The weather changed in a matter of minutes and the stage collapsed in a matter of seconds. We are shocked and saddened by this horribly tragic circumstance and we are all praying for those affected.”

More than 40 people were injured in the stage collapse and five people were killed. One of those killed was stagehand Nate Byrd, 51, who was on the stage rigging to run the show’s spotlight. He died on Sunday at Methodist Hospital. Killed on the scene were Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Indiana; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina BigJohny, 23 of Fort Wayne and Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago, according to the Marion County Coroner’s office.

Amateur video from the grandstands shows the weather come in very rapidly with large gusts of winds blasting through the fairgrounds and ripping the stage down. The video can be seen below, but be aware that it is quite graphic as it shows this event in graphic detail:

Immediately after the stage collapsed, spectators rushed to try and support the fallen truss and rigging in an effort to save any survivors that might be underneath:

The fair was closed down Sunday as State fire marshals and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the collapse, authorities said. So, what do you think contributed to the incident? Of course, there’s the fact that there was a storm. The bad weather was anticipated though, and concert officials had informed spectators that the show might be postponed. However, the large gusts of winds were not foreseen and were viewed as “freakish” by many including Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels. Even with the large gusts of winds not foreseen, I believe there should have been the “smiley face” cuts in the rain tarps that lined the stage. I believe that the extremely large rain tarps that are clearly seen lining the top area turned the whole stage into a large sail that tried to take off. The smiley face cuts in the tarp might not have saved the situation. We will never know if the smiley faces could have stopped this, but it must be obvious that not having these probably played a major factor. It will be interesting to see what the official report states. What are your thoughts?

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