Indiana Senate approves statewide stage inspections

Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) sponsored the bill.

Indiana lawmakers passed an historic vote Thursday. For the first time, those putting up temporary outdoor stages across Indiana will have to get a permit and have the structure inspected.

The action comes after 13 Investigates found no one inspected the rigging at the Indiana State Fair last August before it collapsed, killing seven people.

It's one part of the state's response to the horrific tragedy. It doesn't mean event promoters are not responsible for evacuating in time, but it takes steps to ensure structures that high in the air get a safety check.

The bill passed 41-5. A handful of Republicans who opposed the measure Thursday called it a "knee-jerk" response to the collapse, but the bill now heads to Gov. Mitch Daniels' desk for signature.

Seven people lost their lives and 58 were injured, some critically, when the stage came down just before a Sugarland concert Aug. 13, 2011.

Days after the collapse, 13 Investigates made a disturbing revelation: No one had inspected the stage rigging before it toppled under a gust of wind. Not even national industry-required inspections had taken place.

Andrea Vellinga, a 30-year-old mother from Pendleton, is now having to relearn basic life skills all over after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

"It's made me realize how close of friends I have and what good support they've all given me. And my family too - my husband and my mom and dad," said Vellinga.

Sen. Tim Lanane of Anderson, home to outdoor stages at Hoosier Park, teamed up with House Rep. Bob Cherry, saying it would be negligent to walk away without action.

"We know that something needed to be done. There's no reason for us not to act this session. I'm glad we did," said Sen. Lanane.

Reports about the cause of the collapse are expected out later this month. Lawmakers will reconvene this summer to make additional improvements in the law, but the statewide mandate now means large outdoor temporary stages will need permits and someone to rule them safe.