Indiana State Fairground officials will be asked to help provide answers for massive stage collapse

A crowd of approximately 12,000 people awaiting a Sugarland concert were witness to tragedy at the Indiana State Fair Saturday night when stage rigging and equipment collapsed, trapping concert-goers and electrical workers.

According to State Fair officials, the collapse came approximately 20 seconds after a warning regarding 'evacuation plans' had been issued that strong weather was moving into the area. At that time a strong gust of wind estimated to have been blowing at 53-70 mph pushed through the fairgrounds, causing the stage and scaffolding to come down. (It was believed by State Fair emergency personnel that the storm would hit the fair at approximately 9:15; however, that estimate proved to be too late, as the storm struck shortly before 9 p.m.)

Officials have said that though they have reports of approximately 40 people injured, those figured could rise, as some people did not seek treatment at the on-site triage unit assembled by emergency workers, but instead rushed themselves or their loved ones to the hospital. It's also thought that the death toll may raise.

Strangers were forced to come to the aid of those injured and trapped under the rigging as they awaited the arrival of rescue personnel.  It is believed the area where most of the injuries and deaths occurred was in the "Sugar Pit," a VIP area for concert-goers who could stand within feet of the front stage.

An investigation will soon begin to determine the official cause of the collapse and whether or not the stage and rigging should have been able to withstand the forceful winds. Recent stage collapses across the country have ignited debate on whether or not the manufacturers/architects behind these stage assemblies are not taking into account the "storm factor" that can cause these incidents.

Indiana's position in the Midwest has long made the state vulnerable to tornadoes and severe weather. In '04, Hoosiers and race fans were in a similar position when a tornado touched down near the Motor Speedway moments before the start of the Indy 500, causing a long delay. A free John Mellencamp concert in '06 had just ended when a dangerous winds swept through the area. But neither of these incidents caused injury or deaths as happened Saturday night at the State Fairgrounds.

Anyone wishing to discuss how they can protect their rights with regard to the upcoming investigation is encouraged to contact our Indianapolis offices for a free consultation with our Senior attorneys.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller

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