State Fair stage collapse survivors return to thank doctors, nurses

Jill and Jaymie Polet visited with the nurses and doctors that saved their live five years ago. (Photo: IU Health)
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A mother and daughter who survived the State Fair stage collapse came back to Indianapolis to thank the doctors who saved them Friday.

The August 13, 2011 collapse killed seven people and injured dozens more when a storm knocked down stage rigging on top of a crowd waiting for a Sugarland concert to start.

Jill and Jaymie Polet looked completely healed. They walked into the IU Health Methodist Hospital lobby with a plate full of cookies and armloads of gratitude for nurses and doctors who saved them.

After a big hug from Jaymie, Dr. Timothy Pohlman appeared amazed at the 22-year-old's recovery.

"The world is good for you now. The world is yours," he said.

"You gave it back to us," Jaymie replied.

Moments later, he collected another big hug from Jaymie's mother, Jill.

"It is a pleasure to see you under better circumstances," she said. "It's been five years."

Five years ago, the mother and daughter were trapped, their bones shattered by tons of steel that fell to the ground when the stage rigging collapsed.

Dr. Pohlman doubted he would see them again. They were at death's door.

"Every single day I remember what these people did...it's really amazing," Jill said.

"I can never repay them," Jaymie admitted. "They are the reason I am still here."

The annual reunion is a rare reward for emergency and trauma care doctors and nurses.

Missy Hockaday was an ER nurse the night of the collapse.

"You know how much you mean to us to come back. That's why we get up every day," she told the Polets.

Dr. Pohlman agreed.

"You made my day, my month, maybe my year," he told Jill with a smile on his face.

Later, during an interview, Jill and Jaymie thought about that night and the five years since then.

"We don't forget what happened, we don't let if define us, either," Jill explained.

Physically, both say inside, they feel fine. But emotionally, they are still healing. A close friend was one of the seven people killed.

"Little noises can set me off," Jaymie explained. "I remember what happened. Little noises will put me...flashback right under the stage. We lost someone. Every day we struggle with that."

That painful struggle is teaching them new things about themselves.

"I can do anything I put my mind to, so can Jaymie," Jill said. "I am here for bigger and better things."

Jill plans to run a 5k. Jaymie recently started graduate school. They are remembering the past and the people who gave them a future.