Records reveal feud just before State Fair stage collapse - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Records reveal feud just before State Fair stage collapse

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INDIANAPOLIS -

Internal investigation records now paint a picture of more than one feud taking place backstage moments before the rigging collapsed at the State Fairgrounds last August.

On Thursday, the Indiana State Fair Commission paid a $6,300 fine for workplace violations related to the collapse that killed seven people.

The report reveals the State Fair's executive director and other officials took part in an emergency exercise a month before the collapse that rehearsed nearly the exact same weather conditions that occurred the night of the collapse.

Also, 13 investigates is learning more about what happened backstage just before the tragedy.

One of the key findings is that no one was clearly in charge the night of the collapse. Internal documents reveal tension before a gust of wind brought the roof down.

One day after state labor investigators found the Indiana State Fair Commission violated workplace safety rules, Chairman Andre Lacy made no fuss about handing over thousands of dollars for the failures of Executive Director Cindy Hoye.

"It's just sort of the style and character of the leadership around this Indiana State Fair organization that they got onto improving our safety policies and practices," said Lacy.

Hoye said nothing about her failure to evacuate thousands of fans awaiting a Sugarland concert, or her deposition accusing the band Sugarland of refusing to postpone the show twice.

But in internal documents obtained from the Department of Labor, a Mid America Sound technician had plenty to say.

Crew Chief Garod Cavanaugh's words are clear:

"I don't think Cindy Hoye or Eric Milby were taking me seriously," he wrote to investigators.

Cavanaugh was speaking of the executive director and her show promoter, who served as a liaison between the Fair Commission and Sugarland.

He goes on to say:

"I had a run in with Eric Milby down in Sugarland's office. I said, 'I thought we weren't sending truss spot operators up?' He said, 'Lights aren't my thing.'"

Stagehands Enoch Vinnegar and Nathan Byrd were already in place. Two others were on ladders. Cavanaugh says he made a decision to pull the stagehands down, but says someone from Sugarland told him they were getting the show ready.

Sugarland's lighting director denies seeing lightning early on. He wrote: "Front of house could see storm, but (I) saw no lightning."

He says he told them, "If you see lightning please let me know. I can't see s--- from here."

He goes on to say that at some point, "front of house operators saw lightning. No one said they wanted to come down" until something dropped and then he heard: "Get the f--- down!"

IOSHA investigators also questioned Sugarland's road manager, Helen Rollens.

She was asked: "At any time during these weather updates, was delaying the performance discussed?"

"No," she responded.

IOSHA says it did not find a "knowing" violation against the State Fair Commission because the agency had undergone some recent training.

In other news, the commission says it has hired Hunt Construction, the same company that built Lucas Oil Stadium, to renovate Pepsi Coliseum. The target opening date is spring 2013.

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