Dozens continue recovery from injuries - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Dozens continue recovery from injuries

Updated:
Pam and Brian Cowgill were next to the stage when it fell. Pam and Brian Cowgill were next to the stage when it fell.
Pam Cowgill's sister, Janet Parks, was struck by a beam. Pam Cowgill's sister, Janet Parks, was struck by a beam.
Andrea Vallinga remains in critical condition with head injuries. Andrea Vallinga remains in critical condition with head injuries.
Ashlee Rollings escaped injury, but had friends hurt in the collapse. Ashlee Rollings escaped injury, but had friends hurt in the collapse.

INDIANAPOLIS - Dozens of people are still recovering from injuries sustained in Saturday's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair.

One couple had the best seats in the house for the Sugarland concert, which turned into the worst place to be when the stage crumbled over their heads.

Pam Cowgill still wears the wristband that put her, her husband Brian and sister Janet Parks in the front row to Saturday night's concert at the state fairgrounds - and to the tragedy they will never forget.

"It was surreal. You just saw it coming and don't know what to do. It was like a nightmare, you just can't stop it. You're thinking, 'I didn't have anywhere to go, there's nowhere to hide'," Pam Cowgill said.

With almost no warning, a sudden, powerful gust of wind enveloped the crowd directly in front of the stage before everything collapsed.

"This is after the scaffolding has already fallen, but if this would have represented the front of the stage, we would have been standing right here," Brian Cowgill said, pointing to a picture of the scene in a newspaper.

Brian, a retired Marion firefighter, managed to push to push his wife and sister-in-law to the ground before they were pinned under twisted metal. What happened then was harrowing.

"Ten, 15 seconds later, just that unbelievable crash and then everybody screaming and 'Help me' and people was laying around and I'm pinned under there, and I'm looking at people that were bleeding and broken bones," he said.

From Florissant, Missouri in suburban St. Louis, this was Janet's first Sugarland show and it almost became her last.

"The thing hit me in the back of the head and slammed my face into the ground, which is the sand from the track, and then I don't remember anything until I saw the little girl with blood everywhere," Parks said.

While officials say that, so far, five people were killed and 45 injured, Brian says that many more were hurt, including his injuries along with Pam and Janet. All are sore, but alive.

"You go from this kind of relief to 'Hey, there's still a lot of people that need help'," Brian said.

While the accident brought out the best in people, the Cowgills say that they are haunted by the sounds and dreadful images from what was supposed to be a night filled with music.

Young mother critically hurt

Andrea Vallinga, a 30-year-old mom and wife from Pendleton loves live music and couldn't miss the Sugarland concert Saturday night.

She uploaded pictures from the concert to her Facebook page just 40 minutes before the life-threatening accident. The photos show how close to the stage she was. Just hours before that, she posted her excitement for the night's show.

"Sugarland, tonight, tonight, tonight!!!" she wrote.

"She's one of the most charismatic, outgoing girls I know. She loved live music. She was there with friends we graduated with," said friend Amy Lukins.

Vallinga's uncle, Don Voss, says she was very close to the stage when the wind suddenly kicked up.

"They noticed it was going to happen. They got up and they ran. Well, Andrea was in the back of the girls running and one of those big steel beams just hit her in the back of the head," he said.

Now, Vallinga is among those critically injured, at Methodist Hospital with head injuries. Voss says the light supports crushed the back of Vallinga's skull.

"It's just devastating. It's devastating," said Pam Voss, Vellinga's aunt.

"They're trying to stabilize her," Don Voss said. "It's like hour-to-hour."

About 40 friends and family have been holding vigil in Methodist's ICU for Vellinga, a wife and mother of a four-year-old daughter, Lydia.

"She's showing some improvement. It's really too early to tell. It was a severe head injury, things take time and the next 72 hours are critical," Lukins said. "It's kind of a waiting game."

"They're trying to stabilize her. She's got every tube you can imagine," her uncle said.

Those close to Vallinga are leaning on their faith to get through the tragedy.

"We're just very concerned. Praying to God to help her pull through," Lukins said.

"We just hope to God. She's a good girl. She's strong and has been real healthy, we're just going to pray for her," her uncle said.

"We know it's going to be a long, long haul," her aunt said.

Families issue statements

The families of two victims at IU Health facilities issued the following statements Sunday evening:

"Jenny Haskell, a 22-year-old Ball State senior, is very critical at this time. We thank friends, family and the community for their prayers and request privacy as we make it through this difficult time together. We will send any updates through the hospital as she progresses."

The family of a patient named "Jade," a fifth grader who is in critical condition, said they "would like to thank those who have been praying for her and ask them to continue praying for her recovery."

"Sugar Fan" escapes injury

Ashlee Rollings was so close to the stage Saturday she could touch it and says she can't believe she is alive. Rollings is what is called a "Sugar Fan," a group of friends who travel around the Midwest to see their favorite band take the stage.

"This would have actually been my fifth show for the year," she said.

The show Saturday at the state fairgrounds started out just like all the others for the Whitestown native, in the "Sugar Pit," so close she could touch the stage. But in an instant, something, everything went horribly wrong and the towering scaffolding came down.

"By the time I ran out, it was less than a foot from my ankles. I felt the wind from the collapse," Rollings said.

Amazingly, she escaped without a scratch, but she had no idea where her friends were.

"When I turned around, all I saw was it was down and the first thought that came to my mind was, 'All of my friends are under there and dead'," Rollings said.

Soon, she learned her friend Karen Brunn was alive, but badly injured.

"She is at Wishard Hospital, she has a couple of broken ribs and a very bad cut on her head that needed to be stitched up," she said.

Brunn's son, 12-year-old Josh Brunn, broke his leg in three places. He remains at Riley Hospital.

Ashlee's mother, Robin Groth, was waiting for her in the Pepsi Coliseum and had no idea if her daughter was okay. After more than an hour, she learned she was unhurt.

"I don't know how she made it out alive. It was terrifying," Groth said.

It's a sentiment shared by her daughter about a night she will never forget.

"This is something I am not going to forget forever. It is one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me," Rollings said.

See original story.

See images from the accident scene.

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