Documents: Indiana State Fair had no adverse weather coverage


INDIANAPOLIS - Internal records show the Indiana State Fair Commission did not have wind or adverse weather coverage for its outdoor concerts.

That's one of the findings uncovered by 13 Investigates, in hundreds of newly released documents.

Seven people died when rigging from the grandstand stage collapsed a month ago. Now there are more revelations from a confidential emergency response plan designed to save lives, if followed.

"Ray Allison ran. Otis Baker ran. Justin Armstrong ran, so your team responded just like you would think they would respond," State Fair Director Cindy Hoye told commissioners and board members days ago.

But did the staff respond as they should have? Teams of investigators are reviewing what happened before, during and after high winds brought down the stage August 13th.

A newly released 70-page emergency response plan says it was up to Fair Director Cindy Hoye to proclaim an emergency before any evacuations.

In the event of a severe weather warning, security personnel were to notify key staff, show promoters and campers and turn on a yellow warning light at the Home and Family Arts Building. There are no indications that ever happened.

Thousands of concert goers at the foot of the stage were never told of the severe thunderstorm warning, as directed in the one-page severe weather policy provided to 13 Investigates days after the scaffolding fell..

"As you can see to the west, there are some clouds. We are all hoping for the best, that the weather is going to bypass us. But there is a very good chance that it won't. So, just a quick heads-up before the show starts," began the announcement from M.C. Bob Richards who was sent on stage by Hoye.

In the case of a tornado or high winds, "security personnel" are again to direct those outside to seek shelter in the nearest building or tunnel. But what's unclear is who was acting as the "security personnel."

Indiana State Police Capt. Brad Weaver, who was seen in plain clothes immediately after the incident, was not on duty.

"I was not aware of the severe thunderstorm warning. We had been monitoring the weather and I was in an off duty capacity and as soon as I saw the weather was coming, I immediately went to my smart phone and found Director Hoye," Captain Weaver told reporters. "At 8:45 Director Hoye and I were watching the radar on my smart phone," he added.

Minutes before the gust whipped through, Weaver says he and Hoye were getting ready to evacuate.

"When they asked my advice I said I would delay the second part of the show of Sugarland coming on the stage," explained Paul Poteet on August 16th.

Poteet's name is now listed on tort claim notices sent to the state for potential upcoming lawsuits.

Despite the mention of high winds within the policy, it appears the State Fair Commission was more concerned about rain. It contracted an independent meteorologist to monitor for rain insurance at its Grandstand concerts.

Its $1.4 million insurance policy would allow the commission to collect up to $500,000 if a concert was cancelled because of one-third of an inch of rain accumulation or more.

But there was no coverage for wind, lightning or adverse weather.

The contract for Mid-America Sound Corp. the company in charge of the stage rigging that collapsed, was also released.

The company says it provides on-site technicians during the entire fair, and purchased a 10-tower load bearing roof, unlike any other in the Midwest, with the State Fair Grandstand in mind.

Mid-America Sound also had liability insurance, with a $700,000 cap per person and a $1 million payout per incident.

Fair posts more documents

The documents provided on the fair's website Wednesday include the contract with opening act for Sugarland, Sara Barellies, the Chartis weather insurance policy, public records requests and responses received by the Indiana State Fair Commission, the emergency response plan for ISFC and the Mid-American Sound Corporation document file.