Some injured State Fair victims' claims rejected by fund
INDIANAPOLIS - There is growing anger and frustration because some victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse are not getting a share of money donated to help them.
All the money that people pitched in to help victims with medical bills comes with some very strict guidelines, but many people who were seriously injured don't qualify.
Of the $900,000 collected, 37 people have filed claims to the fund but only 20 have been paid for a total of $470,000. That means an astounding $498,000 is still just sitting there.
"Whatever hit my leg cut it open in a V shape to the bone," said Enoch Vinegar, a 57-year-old stagehand with Local 30. He's now stitched up and holding it together the best he can.
"I'm going through therapy and most likely will have surgery and then do therapy again," said Laura Magdziarz, a Sugarland concert-goer who suffered a broken leg.
They are the faces of victims denied.
Enoch Vinegar was behind a spotlight 35-feet up into the stage rigging.
"I just remember right after I hit the ground, getting and looking down and going, 'oh, I'm bleeding,'" he recalled, before being taken by ambulance to a local hospital for six hours of treatment.
Laura Magdziarz was in the Sugar Pit with her four-year-old girl when the stage collapsed. In the chaos the two got separated. Laura left Methodist to reunite with her critically injured daughter.
"They wanted to admit me. My priority, a lot of it is a blur that night, but I had no idea if Maggie made it to the hospital," she explained.
Both Enoch and Laura's applications for the State Fair Relief Fund were denied because they were not technically admitted to the hospital for a full day between August 13th and October 2nd.
Knee surgery for Enoch came ten days too late.
They are not alone. More than 40 people were transported to local hospitals the night of the collapse. The money donated from the public was to help the families of the deceased and those that were injured. But as it stands right now, victims like Laura and Enoch won't get one dime.
"That is what this money was supposed to be used for," Laura told Eyewitness News.
WTHR viewers weighed in on our Facebook page.
"If they needed medical attention, I think it would be nice to have those bills paid from the fund. They were, after all, victims too," said Carol Korb.
Andrea Grey disagreed. "No, I think it should just go to the ones hospitalized. Their bill is gonna be a hefty one as it is..."
From Linda Shepherd Schendel: "With the way hospitals churn patients in and out, I'm not surprised that some of the injured did not require actual admittance...but if they were treated...and they have documentation... they should be allowed to submit their claim and be heard."
That's exactly the argument Enoch Vinegar wants to make during a promised meeting with Kenneth Feinberg, the claims expert who set the rules.
The state has said any left over monies would be prorated and split between approved victims. There is no word on whether possible changes to that are under consideration.
The deadline to seek a gift from this public charity fund is November 14th.