Indiana State Fair stage collapse kills four, injures forty

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

At least four people died and forty were injured Saturday night as the result of a stage collapsing at the Indiana State Fair, located within the US state of Indiana. The Indianapolis Star has attributed the incident to poor weather. A storm with wind speeds as high as 60 miles per hour (96 kilometres per hour) had been reported.

Captain Brad Weaver, an Indiana State Police employee, described witnessing "the framework from the stage start to come over", having given a public safety announcement shortly prior to the collapse. Numerous patients, including adults and children, have been admitted to hospital. Weaver claimed that the incident could not have been prevented. Video footage of the incident, which has now emerged online, displays witnesses screaming as the rigging falls down.

One witness, who has been identified only as Chris, informed the BBC of the events he sighted. "We could see the sky get really dark and there was lightening and thunder. It almost seemed like a hurricane hit out of nowhere. The stage just leaned to the right and crashed down. It felt to me like it was in slow motion. Everyone was scrambling and it was horrifying because you knew people were underneath it." He described the incident as "the worst thing I have witnessed in my life." David Lindquist, a journalist for The Indianapolis Star, described the scenario as "bad, very bad", and that one "could clearly see people were under the footprint of the rigging." Freeing trapped victims from underneath the wreckage took rescue workers under twenty minutes, according to Lindquist. No performers were left injured.

A Twitter account representing the Indiana State Fair confirmed the fatalities and stated that their "prayers are with the families of all affected". At the time of the incident — approximately 2100 EST Saturday night or 0000 UTC Sunday morning — US country music band Sugarland were about to perform. Band members Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles spoke out after the accident on social networking website Twitter. They said: "We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you'll join us. They need your strength."

Sara Bareilles, another scheduled performer at the event, also commented on Twitter. Bareilles said she was "speechless" and felt "hopeless" in the aftermath of the situation. "Please send love and prayers to Indianapolis tonight. My heart aches for the lives lost."