State Fair survivors press state for more funds

Brad Humphrey

Millions of dollars in found money could soon benefit those who lost the most in the Indiana State Fair tragedy.

Eyewitness News reported months ago that Indiana found $320 million in a bookkeeping error.  State workers last year discovered the funds in corporate taxes that were collected over four years but not transferred to the state's general fund.

As a straight-A Latin student at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Brad Humphrey has a new motto: Carpe diem, or seize the day.

"I do not want my injuries to define who I am," said Humphrey.

Thursday, he seized the day at the Indiana Statehouse testifying in favor of a bill to increase the Indiana State Fair victims' fund from $5 to $10 million with one caveat. Humphrey's lifelong expenses alone are expected to be in the range of $5 million.

"Brad will require some kind of assistance every day for the rest of his life. His life expectancy is 60 years. I am worried about that every day of my life cause I know I won't be there for the next sixty years and who will take care of him?" said Sue Humphrey, Brad's mother.

It is ironic Sue and Brad would be in this position. Both mother and son were spending the day at Old Indiana Fun Park on August 11, 1996 when a small train tipped over, injuring Emily Hunt. Then-Gov. Frank O'Bannon stepped in to have the state pay $1.5 million in medical costs for Emily, who was paralyzed from the waist down. Then 15 years later, almost to the day, Sue's son Brad suffered a similar fate after getting caught in the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, 2011.

"Most people measure their lives in terms of before and after big events like college graduation or a wedding. I think of my life as before Sugarland and after Sugarland," Humphrey told lawmakers.

Attorney Tony Patterson put the state's victim fund in perspective.

"With seven people dead and others with serious injuries, we are looking at damages of $100 million and if we are talking about an additional $5 million, that is insufficient to help them," said Patterson.

"He won't be able to walk across the stage at his graduation in June. He will have to overcome huge obstacles once he decides to go to college and he won't be able to walk down the isle with his bride," said Sue Humphrey.

That is tomorrow. For now, all the Humphreys want to do is seize this day.

There was no vote on this bill Thursday, only testimony. This is the bill that also includes $80 million for school districts to put toward the cost of full day kindergarten.