Tragedy struck the Indiana State Fair Saturday night as the stage collapsed when upwards of 12,000 people were waiting for country-duo Sugarland to perform. Five people are dead, more than 40 were injured and many of the injured are listed as in critical condition.
The stage, which was filled with thousands of pounds of metal scaffolding, lighting, sound and other equipment, crashed down when winds of up to 70 mph hit the area. While the weather service had been in contact with the fairgrounds, Governor Mitch Daniels said the fatal wind gust was a “fluke” that no one could have anticipated. Rain and thunderstorms had been in the forecast and the crowd had been warned of a possible evacuation, but the concert organizers had hoped the show would go on.
Singer Sara Bareilles, who had just finished her set on the stage, posted a statement on her website regarding the tragedy. “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.”
It was just around 9 PM that the blue canvas top seemed to flap violently and the metal scaffolding fell onto the “Sugarpit,” a section usually crowded by Sugarland’s biggest fans. While many attendees fled the scene upon the stage’s collapse, hundreds of concert-goers, employees and law enforcement immediately rushed to the fallen stage to help the victims .
The fair was closed Sunday while investigations of the stage’s safety were underway, but it will open for the first time since the incident today. There will be a memorial service held today in remembrance of the five individuals who lost their lives. They ranged in ages from early 20’s to early 50’s and from fans to stagehand.
Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles posted a statement on the group’s website saying, “There are no words to process a moment of this magnitude and gravity. There are only prayers for peace in the hearts of the bereft, and prayers of thanksgiving for those who were spared or safe. A piece of our heart is left in that grandstand. May God provide peace and healing to the people of Indianapolis.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Indiana.