Indiana State Fair faces balancing act with fund distribution
INDIANAPOLIS - The victims of the Indiana State Fair tragedy are finally about to get their part of the $800,000 relief fund collected through donations. The State Fair Commission on Friday approved a formula for giving out that money to victims.
The plan provides $35,000 each to the estates of the seven people killed in the collapse, and varying degrees of compensation to those hospitalized.
The formula recommended by victims compensation specialist Kenneth Feinberg will give $25,000 to those hospitalized for at least 10 days. Those hospitalized for four to nine days will get $7,500, and one to three days in the hospital gets $3,000.
Payments of thousands of dollars will provide at least some relief to the dozens of people injured, and the families of seven people killed. Medical bills, lost wages and funeral expenses have added to their burden of physical pain and emotional losses.
Heather Goodrich's husband Glenn died when the concert stage collapsed. She and others who lost loved ones will receive $35,000.
"You have to realize half my family's income is gone," said Goodrich. "I need it now. My children have needs. I have needs. There are things to get done."
Now Goodrich is a single working mother.
"It's all on me now. So whatever I can get, I am so grateful for and appreciative for," she said.
The State Fair Commission has a tricky balancing act. It has to compare the amount of money in the special relief fund to the number of claims it expects to receive.
A benefit concert and other contributions made or promised total $840,000.
"Although there's been quite a bit of generosity in the community, it is still not a very large fund considering the number of claimants we might have," said John Trimble, fair commission attorney.
The four-page application must be completed and mailed in no later than November 14th.
Although it requires significant documentation and verification, state fair officials insist the process was designed to be simple and expedient.
"To have it easy for victims to understand and for us to quickly process their claims and payments," said Andre Lacy, fair commission president.
Payments are expected to be made within 48 hours to people suffering emotionally, physically and financially.
Victims and families will have to provide significant documentation.
"We want to make sure we pay the right people so that there aren't controversies later when we've paid someone and someone else comes by and says we shouldn't have paid that person," said Trimble.
The relief fund is accepting donations for another year, raising the possibility of additional help later to victims who have lost so much.