Five Pronounced Dead at Indiana State Fair After Sugarland Gig

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Posted August 14, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in News
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Tragedy hits Indiana State Fair right after Sugarland performance

For Sugarland fans, there wasn’t much sugar to go around before their concert at this year’s Indiana State Fair.

Severe weather left four dead when high winds blew concert scaffolding onto the front rows, as the country band awaited patiently to take the stage. A fifth person was pronounced dead hours after the event. Dozens were reportedly injured according to reports.

A timeline released by the Indiana State Police revealed scary details on how quickly the severe weather entered into the picture.

At 8:45 p.m., the concert emcee announced to attendees that severe weather was moving in, and attendees were told “how and where to seek shelter,” according to the released timeline.

The stage collapsed at 8:49 p.m., four minutes after the announcement from the stage.

Amaetur videos began circulating across YouTube of the stage collapse. Much of the footage looked like a scene take”The wind just picked up and the stage just caught and the roof just caught and it went up like a sail and then it crashed forward into the people standing in the front. There were people trapped underneath and everyone was running and screaming,” said Kirby Ehler of local NewsChannel 15. “They were asking any medics or nurses not to leave.”

Sugarland tweeted their words of sympathy on their Twitter account shortly after the news broke. “We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis,” the band wrote. “We hope you’ll join us. They need your strength.”

Sara Bareilles, who is currently on tour with Sugarland, had just finished her set at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage before the collapse and posted her reaction on Twitter. “I’m speechless and feel so helpless,” she said. “Please send love and prayers to Indianapolis tonight. My heart aches for the lives lost.”

The National Weather Service had issued a hazardous weather alert for central Indiana, warning of heavy rain and thunderstorms. The alert stated, “thunderstorms may be severe with damaging winds and large hail as the main threats.” Adding, “the storms will also produce dangerous lightning and brief heavy rainfall.”

Reportedly wind gusts of 60 to 70 miles per hour struck the area causing the collapse as thousands of fans waited for the headliners to take the stage. 

According to the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety, at least 45 persons have been transported to area hospitals.

Other superstars are slated to appear at the Indiana fair including Janet Jackson, who is set to perform at the 17-day fair on Aug. 17. Train and Maroon 5 are scheduled to make a stop on Aug. 18, and Lady Antebellum for Aug. 19. The fair has not said whether those concerts will continue as scheduled.

Last month, a similar accident took place at the Ottawa Bluesfest stage involving rock band Cheap Trick; causing the news to ripple through major news headlines and raising questions concerning public safety at music festivals.

So what do you think?
Do you think a full investigation should be drawn up?
Who do you think is at fault?


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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