Six die in Indiana rigging collapse during storm

September 2011

Live events

Six people have died after stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis collapsed after being hit by 70mph freak gusts of wind just before country stars Sugarland were due to take to the stage. An announcement warned concert-goers that a storm was approaching BUT and critically it seems also said that it was hoped Sugarland’s concert could go ahead: Seconds later strong winds blew up in the space of seconds and a large stage rig collapsed onto the waiting crowd. According to local media reports, four people died immediately, while one more died later in hospital. Over 40 others were being treated for injuries incurred during the stage collapse. . One member of the audience managed to film the incident State Governor Mitch Daniels told reporters later that many precautions had been taken ahead of the event to cope with stormy weather, but that the stage collapse had been caused by a freak gust of wind – between 60 and 70 mph – that could not have been foreseen. It appears that Sugarland had delayed the start of their set to see how bad the weather was, potentially saving the band’s own and many other lives.

There has been some debate in the US about how much warning organisers of the Fair really had. A spokesman for the Fair said that the metrological information they were relying on suggested there was at least half an hour more time before the storm would arrive at their site. He told a US radio station: “The information we had, with our meteorologist on site with constant contact with the National Weather Service, was that we had about 30 more minutes before any kind of rain or storm blew in”.  But some meteorologists claimed there were very real severe weather warnings that State Fair organisers ignored. Mike Smith from AccuWeather told CBS News that the storm at the Fair site “was very predictable”, adding: “We put out a warning for 60 mile an hour winds a full half hour before the stage collapse occurred”.

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