Reports Position Blame For Stage Collapse
Fans watch as the stage at the Indiana State Fair collapses amid a gust of wind Saturday, August 13. Five people were killed and dozens more were injured.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair which resulted in the deaths of seven people was partly because the stage was not constructed strong enough to meet state building codes.
Engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti released its findings to the Indiana State Fair Commission on Thursday. The company was hired to evaluate the tragedy which occurred August 13 as fans eagerly awaited a concert by country group Sugarland.
The accident killed seven people and injured dozens more.
Scott Nacheman with Thornton Tomasetti told the commission the metal stage rigging did not meet requirements that it withstand wind gusts of 68 MPH. Winds reached about 59 MPH when the stage gave way.
Nacheman said that Greenfield-based Mid-America Sound, the company hired to build the stage, refused to provide information or interviews for the report.
Another firm, Washington-based Witt Associates, was hired by the state fair commission to investigate the human error leading up to the collapse.
The Associated Press reports Witt Associates’ review of the fair’s emergency plans determined that “an ambiguity of authority” resulted in confusion and uncertainty as officials discussed whether to postpone the concert.
The fair’s overall state of preparedness was not adequate for an event of its size and scope, the review said.
“We’ve got a lot to learn and reflect on,” said state fair commission chairman Andre Lacy.
The commission voted to accept both reports and begin implementing their recommendations.
In February, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined three organizations associated with the stage collapse. Mid-America Sound was fined $63,000 for three major safety violations. The Indiana State Fair was fined to the tune of $6,300 and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 30 was fined $11,500.
Fault has been tossed around from fair organizers for not ordering an evacuation with a storm approaching, to Sugarland’s alleged insistence the concert not be delayed, to the company which assembled the stage.
Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles was being deposed Thursday as part of a civil lawsuit investigation into the collapse. The band’s guitarist, Kristian Bush, will undergo his questioning on Friday.
“I don’t think we could have done better than these two world renowned firms. I thank them for their thorough and professional work,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. “The State Fair Commission knows that we will insist on immediate and complete implementation of the recommendations in this report. But it’s also now clear that most, if not all states, have been deficient in this area and have much to learn from this tragedy. We will share freely all these findings and suggestions with any state who will listen, starting later this month at a national meeting in Indianapolis about national safety standards for outdoor temporary stages and structures. The meeting is being hosted here because of the State Fair accident.
“We’d give anything to have that night over, but occasionally something positive can come out of terrible tragedy, and we have to do all we can to make that happen here.”