Indiana State Fair stage collapse: Live blog


This is a blog based on WTHR's live coverage of the collapse of rigging over a stage at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday night at the Sugarland concert. Five people have died and there around 46 injured. Refresh your page to see the latest version.

10:43 am

This will be the final entry of the blog. For updated information on the fair tragedy, we'll be adding stories and video to this section of

9:03 am

Here's a link to the live stream of the memorial service. They're starting off with an acoustic duo singing a song.

8:30 pm

Anchor John Stehr, who was at the fairgrounds Sunday evening, reflected on the silent streets and the tragedy at the State Fair.

5:30 pm

The State Fair issued a statement about the status of concerts scheduled this week.

"The Indiana State Fair will resume Monday, Aug. 15 at 8 a.m. Due to the tragic incident in the Grandstand on Saturday night, the status of the fair's remaining concerts with Janet Jackson, Lady Antebellum and Maroon5 and Train are all still undetermined."

3:55 pm

We're getting some pictures in now of the people who lost their lives in last night's accident. Click here to see them. We will share the victims' stories in the coming days.

3:43 pm

A memorial page has been set up here.

3:23 pm

We'll be airing a one-hour special of Eyewitness News at 6pm tonight. Also, we'll be covering tomorrow morning's ceremony at the fairgrounds honoring the victims at 9am. We will have a live stream of the event on

1:02 pm

See a timeline of events from Indiana State Police.

11:52 am

From Rep. Mike Pence: "Like every Hoosier, my family and I were shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic events at the Indiana State Fair last night. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives, the injured and their families, public safety personnel and all those affected by this Hoosier tragedy."

11:17 am

Cindy Hoye, executive director of the Indiana State Fair, was backstage at the time of the collapse and was still visibly shaken by the traumatic events as she spoke to the media Sunday morning.

"We are very much in mourning the loss of the victims and we are praying with their families. It's a very sad at the State Fair and our hearts are really breaking," Hoye said.

"We appreciate all of you giving us a day to regroup. We are closed today. Today we are working with IOSHA who are looking at the contractor for the structure. We are also working with the state fire marshal's office to being their internal investigation of this temporary structure as well," she said.

"Personally I was here right backstage and I want to also acknowledge the extraordinary efforts by the joint command center, IMPD, IEMS, IFD, State Police, the State Fair team, where safety is always number one."

"Tomorrow, the fair will reopen. We will open at 8:00 am but we will start with a special public remembrance gathering at 9:00 am on the Free Stage. We ask any of you that would like to attend in joining us in this remembrance and sharing with us in our thoughts and prayers, we'd love for you to be there."

Hoye said that the majority of state fair programs will occur, "but specific details on the concerts and other activities in the grandstands have not been finalized. We will continue to update you when we have definitive information."

"Our hearts are very, very heavy today. Personally, I saw those Hoosiers last night, governor. Extraordinary effort by countless people. I even had a woman grab my hand and said, 'let's pray for a minute."

 10:58 am

Cindy Hoye, executive director of the Indiana State Fair, was backstage at the time of the collapse and was still visibly shaken by the traumatic events as she spoke to the media Sunday morning.

"We are very much in mourning the loss of the victims and we are praying with their families. It's a very sad at the State Fair and our hearts are really breaking."

10:51 am

Police identified those killed in the accident: Tammy Vandam, Glenn Goodrich, Alina Bigjohny, Christina Santiago, Nathan Byrd. Their families have been notified.

10:50 am

"First and foremost, we continue to ask Hoosiers across the state for their continued thoughts and prayers for the family members of the deceased as well as the injured that are continuing to have aid rendered to them at local hospitals now," said 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten, Indiana State Police.

10:25 am

"Indiana and the nation's finest fair suffered an unthinkable tragedy last night. Our first and final thoughts today will be with those we've lost and the families and friends of those we've lost in this terrible accident," said Gov. Mitch Daniels.

"What needs saying most about last night's freakish accident was that we saw on display the best qualities of both public and private Hoosiers. By every account the response by every responsible entity - Mayor Ballard's outstanding police and fire forces - our own Indiana State Police, the security force of the State Fair itself, emergency management personnel, was instantaneous and highly professional. It's equally important to say what I heard over and over and over again last night - that individual Hoosiers ran to the trouble, not from the trouble, by the hundreds, offering in many cases their own professional skills. I've heard it from everybody I've debriefed this morning. People rushing up, 'I'm a nurse, I'm a doctor, I'm a trained EMS responder.' But also people who simply pitched in," said Daniels, struggling to contain his emotions.

"It's the character that we associate with our state. People don't have to be paid to do it. We want to say thanks to each of you and I know that those who were rescued and those who would have been more seriously hurt without their help have family who are profoundly grateful today and I am on their behalf."

10:06 am

Public remembrance gathering at State Fair at 9am tomorrow. Open to everyone.

10:05 am

Revised totals: 45 patients transported to area hospitals, per Indiana State Police

9:49 am

Here's a storm timeline from Nicole Misencik:

8:39 National Weather Service issues severe thunderstorm warning for Marion County
8:45 A 60-70 mph wind gust is reported at the fairgrounds. Wind damage occurs before rain begins

9:35 am

Live stream at fairgrounds to start shortly. Click here to watch.

9:32 am

The mother of an injured 17-year-old at Methodist Hospital says her son has a broken back and may not walk again.

9:21 am

We've confirmed that a fifth person has died. Unconfirmed reports say the victim was a spotlight worker or stage hand who was on the stage or on the rigging when it came down.

9:20 am

Meteorologist Nicole Misencik says it wasn't a tornado that caused last night's accident. It was a gust front, which is a sudden burst of wind that arrives in advance of the storm front.

9:03 am

Gov. Daniels was out surveying the scene this morning.

8:53 am

All fair events are canceled for Sunday.

2:44 am

State Police expect to hold another media availability sometime between 9am and noon Sunday. Unless something else develops with this story, that will be the next update for the blog.

2:43 am

Red Cross has list of 33 people injured at fairgrounds and what hospital they went to. Call 317.684.4305.

2:11 am

Two of the deceased have been identified; the coroner is still working to identify the other two victims. No names are being released at this point.

1:47 am

Bursten says the fair will be closed Sunday. It's expected to resume Monday, starting with a ceremony to honor the deceased and injured.

Bursten confirms four dead and at least 40 injured and transported to Riley, Methodist and Wishard Hospitals. Injuries range from "cuts and scrapes to very serious."

"I want to be very frank that there is a possibility we could have other deaths. We hope that everybody will be praying for those injured people."

1:45 am

1st Sgt. Dave Bursten with the Indiana State Police:

"The most important thing to start out with is our heartfelt feelings with the families who have lost loved ones."

1:37 am

Frank Straub, Department of Public Safety for Indianapolis: "The response was excellent not just from first responders but from participants, people that were attending the event. When the structure came down, people at the event worked with emergency providers tried to lift the structure to help people underneath."

1:34 am

Just spoke to a man who shot video of the stage collapse. He also describes the efforts of people to save the injured, remove the scaffolding and make way for emergency personnel.

NWS issued the warning at 8:39...the collapse occurred around 8:50 pm. The gust of wind appears to have taken everyone by surprise.

A 14-year-old survivor from Franklin says it was like something out of a movie. She said it happened so fast there wasn't time to get out of the way.

1:08 am

Bethany Melvin witnessed the collapse. She talked about the large number of people who ran to help the injured.

"Everybody just jumped in. They quit worrying about what was going on. Everyone was pushing up on the scaffolding and other people were trying to get in and help. It was an amazing effort."

1:06 am

We've compiled some images of the collapse (before and after) from Facebook. We'll be adding more to this slide show over the next few days.

12:56 am

A doctor who happened to be at the concert with his family is describing treating a toddler with an arm injury requiring hospital attention. That would be the youngest victim we've heard about so far. He did not think the injury was life-threatening.

He says he saw various people trapped. He says he's worried about the injuries sustained by one of the stagehands who was working in the scaffolding.

He says he's still amazed that he wasn't injured because he had to clear 30 feet with his daughter to avoid being struck by falling metal.

12:55 am

We just heard the audio that accompanied the video of the stage collapse - people are screaming in terror. Very harrowing.

12:33 am

Emergency room staffing levels adequate at Wishard. 16 patients at Wishard. Some in surgery.

12:32 am

This video shows the aftermath of the collapse.

12:22 am

Compounding the problems tonight was a lack of cell phone service as everyone tried to make calls at the same time.

12:20 am

Richard Essex interviews Jason Scofield, who shot video of the rigging collapsing. He said the announcement had just been made that they might have to evacuate. At that point, dust started blowing quickly.

"All of the sudden there was a second gust and the stage started to twist slowly. The grandstand started to shake. Everyone started to run instantly to try and get out," he said.

12:19 am

Just interviewed a teenager and her mom who were treated after the accident. They're okay, but they pointed out there are still some concert-goers looking for loved ones and friends.

Go to to check on loved ones. (Click "Safe and well.")

12:11 am

A 7-year-old boy is among the injured. Injuries range from fractures to bruises to head trauma.

12:03 am

Search and rescue has been completed.


Some reports put the number of injured at around 200, but we have not confirmed that.


Natalie Prater is a pediatric nurse who helped the injured, including a child. She described an "amazing team effort" in the moments following the accident.

"There was no way we could be forewarned that something like this could happen," she said. She and her husband were walking out, expecting the show to be called off.

"Then we heard things popping and we took off running. People were pushing. We turned around and saw the stage collapsing. Then we ran back, hopped over rafters and went to help as many people as we possibly can."

She estimated there could be 50 injured or more.


Video of the collapse


One witness says she was already walking towards the exit when the accident happened.

"We thought it was rain moving across the fairgrounds, but it wasn't rain. It was dirt and dust and everyone was just walking. then the stage just collapsed."


Mayor Greg Ballard praised first responders, saying, "Everything has been very well coordinated to respond to this event." He called the response "very orderly, very calm but at the same time. First responders have done a terrific job here tonight and they have the situation in hand even though it's still a bit fluid."


17 injured at Wishard. Non-life-threatening injuries - mainly fractures. Ages range from very young to adults.


Two stories emerging:

Witnesses dispute the fact that there was an evacuation going on. State Police say they had warned people about where they needed to go in the event of an evacuation, and that they were putting people in place to start evacuating. It's still unclear if there was an evacuation underway.

Hundreds of witnesses rushed to the aid of people trapped underneath the fallen rigging.


National Weather Service: Not much rain accompanied the thunderstorms that were moving in tonight when the stage collapsed, but a gust front appeared - it's a burst of air ahead of the thunderstorms.

77 mph in Plainfield before it started raining. When rain moved in, the wind died down.

A severe T-storm warning was issued at around 8:35 for Marion County.


Tony Francis was in the second row with his wife. Francis said he is a first responder and his wife is a nurse.

Regarding fatalities, he said, "I saw at least five myself. When I left they had just lifted the master speakers and they found two more underneath that."

Francis said his wife "triaged about ten or twelve people with compound fractures, lacerations, a lot of head injuries and neck injuries."


Video of aftermath of stage collapse.


Go to to check on loved ones. (Click "Safe and well.")


Indiana State Police were monitoring the storm just before the stage collapse. They were just beginning evacuation plans when the gust of wind hit at 8:50, causing the stage to sway and then crash down on the crowd.


"It's gonna be a long night for a lot of folks," said Mayor Greg Ballard.


A woman who said she was a nurse was attending the concert. She said she saw "a lot of people unconscious. Broken legs, broken arms, pretty scary."


Twelve ambulances were on-scene within 15 minutes of stage collapse. The main focus now is making sure no one else is trapped underneath the fallen rigging.


Witnesses are disputing a report that an evacuation was already in process when the accident happened.


"When the stage collapsed, it missed my foot by about a foot and a half," said a man who was at the concert. After making sure his girlfriend was all right, he said the first thing they did was try to lift the scaffolding off people who were trapped.

"It's the way it fell. There were many people that were trapped underneath it but it didn't land on everybody."


"It was the most traumatic thing I've ever seen," said Crystal Wilbur, witness.

"Everybody just came in together as a team," she said, describing a scene where hundreds of people rushed in to help lift the heavy equipment off the injured.


Nine patients taken to Wishard Hospital. Others taken to Methodist - number unknown.


Charlie Morgan from Hank FM, which sponsored the concert, believes it was wind shear that caused the collapse.

He says the people in the "Sugarpit", the area just in front of the stage, had closest access and bore the brunt of the falling rigging. "I did not personally witness people leaving that area prior to the stage coming down," he said.


News conference at fairgrounds postponed.


Chikage Windler reports: Wind gust at Lucas Oil Stadium around the time of the collapse was 53 mph.


Sugarland, who had not taken the stage yet before the accident, sent out the following Tweet to fans:

"We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you'll join us. They need your strength."


The accident is being treated as a level one emergency - that means all hands on deck.