Probe underway into Indiana State Fair stage collapse that killed 5
A stage collapsed during a storm Saturday night at the Indiana State Fair's Sugarland concert.
August 14th, 2011
11:52 AM ET

Probe underway into Indiana State Fair stage collapse that killed 5

Update: Sunday 11:28 a.m. ET

At least five people were killed Saturday night at the Indiana State Fair when a massive wind tore down a concert stage, authorities said. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels described the collapse as a "freakish accident." Watch an iReport shot by someone who captured the stage collapsing.

"You could see a lot of people panicking," said Aaron Richman, who witnessed the incident in Indiapolis. Deafening screams were heard over the crumbling of the main concert stage. "All the scaffolding and speakers - all that came crashing down - and the whole stand just collapsed."

Allison Hoehn said many in the crowd rushed to try to help people trapped under the debris.  "We tried to get down to help, but no one was moving," she said. "The storm came on so fast and the stage just snapped like a toothpick."

Spectators grabbed parts of their seats to assemble makeshift stretchers, Hoehn said. "Everyone rushed to help, and we saw people searching and pulling people out," she said. "(I) saw five people go away on stretchers. It was amazing how many people ran in to try to lift the scaffolding."

As crews sifted through the rubble late into Saturday, on Sunday Indiana State Police Sgt. Dave Bursten reported that in addition to the fatalities, at least 40 were injured.

"It's a very sad day at the state fair and our hearts are really breaking," said Cindy Hoye, the fair's executive director. 

Investigators are trying to figure out the cause of the collapse. A stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed Saturday. At least a dozen were hurt, according to the Indianapolis Star newspaper.

The country music duo Sugarland, who was slated to appear on stage Saturday, tweeted that they were okay: "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."

A witness told CNN that inclement weather played a part in the incident, which was posted on Youtube.

"A big gust of wind came through. You could see a lot of people panicking. All the scaffolding and speakers - all that came crashing down - and the whole stand just collapsed," Aaron Richmann said.

Video from CNN affiliate WTHR showed flashing lights and emergency vehicles on the scene.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for central Indiana Saturday evening. “Thunderstorms may be severe with damaging winds and large hail as the main threats,” the weather service said. “The storms will also produce dangerous lightning and brief heavy rainfall.”

The weather service said thunderstorms were possible for the area Sunday.

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Filed under: Indiana • U.S.
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Karina

    This same tragic event happened a few years back in Camrose, Alberta Canada ( due to severe weather) there was 1 death and it was also at a country music event.

    This is tragic and my heart goes out to all the people of Indianapolis! And to all the families of the victims. We r sending prayers your way!

    August 14, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. FOCUS

    People with no lives sit on the internet and start crap because they like to see others getting upset and it gives them a perverted high to have others argue with them. IGNORE THEM and dont add fuel to the fire. What do you think would happen if every one whos bothered by their comments acted like they never saw their comment? The banter back and forth would never happen. If those people who were injured or died had the choice of arguing over pertty things or

    August 14, 2011 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. FOCUS

    If the people who were injured or died tonight were asked what was more important to them.... arguing about *petty stuff or being able to have their life back. Im pretty sure they'd choose life. Again...just ignore the people starting stuff. Thats why they say stupid crap.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ali

    Ok, Indy is not the only place where weather can turn on a dime. So that is little excuse. There should never been a "what if". The "if there is bad weather"announcements should have been coming as these people were entering the stadium before Sara Barilles even came on. This storm didn't pop up out of midair. It was rolling in from Illinois. Meteorologists had been warning about some weather activity all day. Yeah, it happens all the time there, but that's not the point. The minute the wind warnings came out for surrounding areas and it was listed how strong these winds were, these people should have been evacuated. Period. And whoever DIDN'T make that call is in for a world of hurt now that 4 people are dead and dozens more injured.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. fernace

    This is a horrific tragedy made moreso because had promoters heeded the weather warnings, it could have been prevented! There had been "bad weather"warnings issued throughout the day! An earhquake can take you by surprise, but not thunderstorms! I get how hyped people are about fairs, to have fun with friends & hear great music& the general concensus is "the show must go on"! But some1 must be in charge of calculating risks, usually the event planners! Several outdoor events have been cancelled/rescheduled due to trippledigit temps in my state! It's the resposible thing to do! People should not have to lose their lives over a fair! God bless the families of those who perished & help the injured!!

    August 14, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. jenflor79

    It's sad that ppl are making a mockery out of such a tragedy bcuz it suits their childish agendas. Please refrain from taking advantage of a HORRIBLE event and leave this comment thread to ppl that have a HEART and want to wish the survivors and victims families their condolences. Respect their feeling, Like they would respect yours.

    August 14, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Shawn

    Video Footage of it:

    August 14, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mandoist

    From a performer's perspective I have to wonder why so many of these temporary Tonka Toy-like "stages" are still being used? Since the tragedies in America and Canada in the past few years, with temporary stages, two artists I was performing with have refused to take the stage due to the rickety appearance of the construction (one fairground 'stage' and one outdoor festival).

    Anything short of an actual tornado touchdown should not blow a well constructed unit to the ground. Time and expense seem to be the issues here. Not to mention the many independent traveling stage companies (many of which are inept and 'accidents waiting to happen'.

    August 14, 2011 at 5:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. Hoosier

    Its awful what happened but I was In Indy last night and the lightening and wind before the storm were pretty evident. If you see lightening and feel the wind start to pick up and perhaps see the sky turn a very ominus black like it did well before the storm hit you should seek shelter regaurdless of any non warning. Those things that youre seeing is the warning, take shelter for goodness sakes. I think most people just thought it was no big deal because they were under the influence of alcohol, but severe weather is always a big deal because you never know what might happen. My condolences to those who lost thier lives and a swift recovery for the injured.

    August 14, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      I live in Indy and it's ridiculous to say that the weather was evident or that people didn't leave bc they were drunk. Shame on you, Hoosier! The storm lasted no more than fifteen minutes and moved quickly. Wind knocked down the stage... Not rain not lightning and not drunks. And nobody can predict wind. It was a TRAGEDY and I hope deaths are not in vain, and stage operations are changed or improved to prevent this from ever happening again. We can always be more safe.

      August 14, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. RUFFNUTT (stage hand)

    i know that at my job most the time the boss won't let us take the time too ddo a proper inspection of the seating area and stage.. they make us sign it off...

    August 14, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Stevereeno

    This is the second stage colapse in one month,....remember Cheap Trick jsut had it happen to them.

    I'd say this should be sending a big alarm to promoters and concert organizers to double down on the construction and inspection of these stage rigs. And,..the need to clear the fans from backstage and on scaffolding mezzanines.

    No one needs to be dying out here for concerts.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. Josh

    "Investigators are trying to figure out the cause of the collapse." Seriously? Such a sad story, but come on...Is it necessary to even include that quoted statement in the report? Everyone knows why it collapsed. The structure could not withstand the heavy winds. It is as simple as that.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • vballer14

      I would assume they are investigating whether the structure itself was compromised before the wind. Standard protocol for any tragedy like this.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ash28

    The ignorance of some people never seems to surprise me but always saddens me. If you have those comments to make in a time of tragedy keep them to yourself or others like you. The world doesn't have to be such an ugly place. I sincerely hope you never have to experience what these people did but if you do I hope you learn something from it. My heart is with those who suffered a loss or injury in this accident.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. guy sharpless

    My heart snd prayers go out to those who lost friends or family or those injured in this horrible accident. I've thirty + years experience in the industry. I've toured, rigged, been a stage hand and performed. There are those that would attribute this to the people that set this stage up, to the promoter, to the fair directors. I ask that you hold your comments until there is a conclusion by those who investigate this tragedy. There are already discussions going on by those who are involved in the day to day business of staging as to how we can make sure that this won't/can't happen again. I also ask that those injured remain in your hearts and prayers. Several of the stage hands, truss spot operators were horribly injured as well as those who went to enjoy a concert on a summer day I wish them all a speedy recovery.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • lol!

      Talking to your imaginary friend will accomplish nothing.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gung hoe

    I own and operate a roofing co You dont need to worry osha is probably on site already They will fine whoever is responsible whether they are or not Because its oshas job to ensure we live in a society where theres no accidents Oh isnt that why its called a accident

    August 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
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