Family mourns stagehand killed in collapse

Nathan Byrd

INDIANAPOLIS - It has been a painful few days for the families of the victims of the tragedy at the State Fair.

Nathan Byrd is one of the five people who died in the scaffolding collapse Saturday night. His family says Nate thought about not working the concert that night, but needed the money after they say his last paycheck came up short for reasons they don't fully understand.

Now they're haunted by dozens of "what ifs" and the video showing the rigging and stage collapsing Saturday night at the Indiana State Fair. Every time the Byrds watch it on television, they know they're witnessing the final moments of their son's life.

"I keep seeing that thing collapse. It's killing me, knowing now how far he fell and what happened to him," says Nate's mother June, burying her face in her hands.

"It hurts. It hurts real bad, you know, something like that," says Nate's father Alvin.

The 51-year-old stagehand was supposed to run lights for the concert that night. Alvin Byrd and his son talked on the phone just before Nate climbed above the stage.

"He said 'Well, I gotta climb this 40-foot rope' and I said, 'Well, be careful' and he said okay," remembers Alvin.

That was the last time the elder Byrd would ever talk to his son.

"Next thing I know, I heard on TV that they had a big accident out there," Alvin explains.

Not long after that, the Byrd family found out Nate was among those critically injured. He died later at the hospital.

"Everybody is in shock. Nathan was a family icon. He was our family star," says Randy Byrd, Nate's older brother.

Randy Byrd says his little brother was well respected in his craft.

"He was known at work as 'Save The Show Nate'," says Randy.

That's because Randy says his brother was comfortable with heights.

"He was the guy they were looking for and to put up front and be front and center more or less," he explains. "He ran the spotlight. He built the stages."

Now, Randy questions the safety of temporary stages like the ones his brother worked around.

"They're engineered and designed for fast assembly and fast retraction," Randy says.

That is something Randy believes contributed to his brother's death, along with other factors.

"If they saw that there was a storm an hour and a half away, they should have canceled and they didn't do that. It was poor judgement. Poor management. Poor organization. Bad call," says Randy.

The family has hired an attorney, but realizes nothing will bring Nate back.

"We can't do anything about it now," says June.

Nothing, but mourn their child.

"He was an all around sport," says Nate's dad.

An unnatural thing for parents to have to do, they say, at any age.

"It didn't have to happen. It didn't have to happen," says June.

Adding to this difficult time, the Byrds say Nate didn't have a beneficiary named on his insurance, should anything happen to him. His funeral is Thursday, but his family tells Eyewitness News they don't have the more than $2,000 it will cost for their son's burial plot. He is supposed to be buried at Floral Park Cemetery.