Families of deceased State Fair victims to get priority


INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's attorney general says relatives of the deceased and those most seriously injured in the Aug. 13th stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair will be first to receive money from the state in as few as 90 days after they file a tort claim.

Under Indiana law, stagehand Nathan Byrd family could be eligible for up to $700,000, but receiving that amount is unlikely.

"Any money we recover will go for Nathan Byrd's children," said Tom Hastings, an attorney who represents Byrd's 14 year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.

Hastings says the $5 million the state is preparing the divvy up - the maximum allowed after any single incident - is a relative drop in the bucket.

"I think the total damages to all the victims probably exceed $100 million," said Hastings.

"We've already decided that we're going to move the $5 million. That's all I can do statutorily. That's the only authority I have," said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Together with nationally renowned victim's fund expert Kenneth Feinberg, that money will be divided and distributed. The attorney general says priority will be given to relatives of those killed as well as those seriously injured. The investigation into who is responsible for the stage collapse could drag on for months, and the distribution of funds is not an admission of guilt.

"The state's willingness to step up and try to treat the victims as their citizens and people we're responsible for regardless of who's liable," said Zoeller.

"Nathan was a family icon. He was our, family star," said Byrd.

For the Byrd family, which hasn't filed a claim yet, any money received will help ensure the future of two young children. But even with Indiana's proactive approach, compensation will likely be limited.

"I don't see any way that the victims or the families of the decedents are going to get a full recovery here," said Hastings.