Stage collapse at Indiana State Fair

A tragic accident just minutes before the band Sugarland was set to perform killed five people and injured 45 on Saturday, August 13. High winds and severe weather caused Indiana State Fair personnel to put an evacuation plan in place, but before it could be fully enacted, the main stage collapsed, sending scaffolding and speakers tumbling into the crowd waiting for the show.


One of those killed was Nathan Byrd, 51, a stagehand who was working on the stage at the time the collapse occurred. Questions are being asked as to why the state was not notified of his death in a timely manner by his employer.


The others who lost their lives in this tragedy are:


— Tammy Vandam of Wanatah
— Glenn Goodrich of Indianapolis
— Alina Bigjohny of Fort Wayne
— Christina Santiago of Chicago


Many of those injured are still in critical condition, and the death toll could continue to rise.


At 8:45 p.m., following a set by Sara Bareilles, the commander of special operations for the Indiana State Police, Brad Weaver, spoke to the crowd, announcing that severe weather was on the way, and warning that cancellation of the show was a possibility. Five minutes later, the stage completely gave way in the wake of wind gusts that reached 70 miles per hour.


The fair was shut down on Sunday, but opened again on Monday following a memorial service for the victims of the accident.


Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland made a statement following the tragedy: “We are stunned and heartbroken for the fans and their families in Indiana. We hold those injured in our prayers at this very sad time. There are no words. It is tragic.”


Sara Bareilles also spoke of the accident on her Twitter page: “I’m speechless and feel so helpless. My heart aches for the lives lost.”


Indiana state law does not require stage rigging like the kind that fell to be inspected by building inspectors, although they are responsible for inspecting the rides at the fair to ensure their safety.