Sugarland answers questions on State Fair concert
Sugarland is defending its decision to "fail to delay" their Indiana State Fair concert when weather took a turn for the worse last August, leading to the fair stage to collapse, killing seven people and injuring dozens more.
Singer Jennifer Nettles testified in a deposition Thursday that no one ever asked the band to delay their concert that night. That's a different story than the one State Fair officials have told in their testimony.
"The fact is that Jennifer and Kristian never told anyone not to delay the concert because of the weather. They care deeply about their fans and, as they've said, nobody wants to get to the bottom of what happened more than they do," said Allen Mayer, Sugarland spokesman.
The other half of the duo Sugarland was set to answer questions about what happened that night of August 13 later Friday. Kristian Busch answered questions from some 40 attorneys representing victims of the stage collapse.
Attorneys in Indianapolis watched the testimony in Charleston, West Virginia, by video conference for the second day in a row.
Attorney Scott Starr represents a woman injured in the collapse. He said Nettles testified Thursday that nobody ever told them they should delay the show, and that there just two brief discussions about bad weather.
"Other than that," Starr said, "there were no conversations at all about the State Fair asking Sugarland to delay the concert, according to Jennifer Nettles."
This goes against what State Fair officials have said - that they told the band's manager to tell Sugarland to delay the concert.
It took four hours and 15 minutes for Nettles to answer questions about that deadly night.
Starr watched on a video conference in Indianapolis as Nettles testified from West Virginia.
"Jennifer Nettles testified that she had two very brief conversations with respect to the weather that evening. She had a short conversation with Helen Rollins, and Helen told her that there was an issue with the weather and they were watching it," said Starr.
Rollins, according to Starr, worked for Gellman Management and was Sugarland's tour manager.
Starr said Nettles also testified that she and Rollins had one other brief conversation. "Right before the band was scheduled to go on, Helen Rollins commented to her that they thought they were going to hold," said Starr.
"The State Fair folks are very adamant that they asked Helen Rollins to please tell Sugarland to delay the concert," Starr said. "That Helen Rollins came back and said Sugarland does not want to delay the concert. That's what the folks at the State Fair have testified to," said Starr.
Starr said with both sides telling different stories, he and other attorneys are waiting anxiously to hear what Rollins has to say during her testimony.
"Jennifer testified today that Helen Rollins, at no time, ever asked her to delay the concert. And that's different...that's new," Starr said.
So now the question of whether State Fair officials ever asked for the delay and the request just wasn't passed on. That should become more clear when Rollins gives her deposition.
The civil side of victims' attempts to receive compensation has just begun. Nearly 70 individuals or families are potentially involved. So there are dozens of attorneys and many depositions before all of this is final.
Helen Rollins was supposed to give her testimony Friday, but her appearance was postponed until next month.