Four deaths and more than 40 people injured after a stage collapsed Saturday night during a storm at the Indiana State Fair held in Indianapolis, where the country group Sugarland was set to perform, were confirmed today by the authorities.
At least 40 people were reported injured in the incident at the fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Strong winds caused the stage rigging for the outdoor concert to collapse, trapping and injuring concert attendees before 9 p.m.
Details on the conditions of those injured were not immediately known.
No group was performing at that moment. The opening act had finished, and people were waiting for Sugarland to take the stage.
Emergency crews were called to the scene, and workers were setting up a command center to tend to those who were injured.
Thousands of concert attendees were being evacuated from the Indiana State fairground grandstand to a nearby coliseum when a wind gust brought down the stage rigging. The rigging fell onto an area where some fans were seated.
“It was like it was in slow motion,” Amy Weathers, concert attendee, told the Star.
“You couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”
Injured people were being moved to a tunnel below the stage.
Injured people were being moved to a tunnel below the stage, according to the Star.
An Associated Press photographer, Darron Cummings was attending the concert as a Sugarland fan shortly before the collapse with some friends. He told that an announcer gave the crowd instructions on how to evacuate if the weather worsened, but said they hoped to get Sugarland on stage soon.
Darron Cummings said he and his friends went ahead and sought shelter in a nearby barn after seeing the weather radar.
“Then we heard screams. We heard people just come running,” Cummings told the AP.
Eyewitnesses told that some of the injured were in a VIP section in front of the stage known as the “Sugar Pit.” They also said a wall of dirt, dust, rain and wind came up the main thoroughfare of the fairgrounds just before the collapse.
“Panic kicked in when they seen the dust bowl coming in from the Midway,” a concert attendee, Darryl Cox told WTHR.
“There was lightning and the sky had gotten dark but it wasn’t raining when the wind suddenly toppled the rigging.”
“It was horrible, people were running and going crazy,” told WTHR-TV another person at the concert.
In 2009, a record 973,902 people attended the fair. The 150th Indiana State Fair was held August 9–20, 2006.
The state fair buildings and grounds are used for a variety of other shows while the fair is not being held. The largest building at the fairgrounds is the Pepsi Coliseum, formerly known as the Indiana State Fair Coliseum, where the Indiana Ice usually play. The fairgrounds are on 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway.