Union investigated in Indiana State Fair stage collapse

Nathan Byrd

INDIANAPOLIS - There's new information on the State Fair Tragedy, and who was responsible for assembling the rigging which fell and killed seven people.

13 Investigates takes a look at the contract, and tries to get answers from the union which was hired to do the job.

Randy Byrd wants answers.

"There's no doubt in my mind that it was constructed poorly. It was assembled wrong," he Byrd said as he talked about the stage that claimed his brother's life.

Nathan Byrd, a stagehand with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 30, was perched behind a spotlight high above the stage at the Indiana State Fair, when it collapsed to the ground. He and six others died.

The Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating Byrd's employer, Local 30.

"He ran the spot light. He built the stages. He had high comprehension so he was able to figure out the assemblies," said Randy Byrd, describing his brother's work.

Local 30's contract with the Indiana State Fair Commission says the union is responsible for the set-up, because it supplied all of the labor.

Mid-America Sound owned the stage, while the commission paid Local 30 to handle "...all phases of stage scaffolding set-ups and tear-downs...and the installation, operation and dismantling of permanent or temporary sound, lighting and audio visual equipment."

"...The Union shall obtain and maintain all required permits, licenses and approvals, as well as comply with all health, safety and environmental statutes, rules or regulations..."

Under the agreement, the commission even promised to pay for one testing session for one employee each year through the Entertainment Technician Certification Program.

The certification program manager says Indiana has seven arena riggers certified through its program to set up temporary stages.

Nathan Byrd was not one of them.

ETCP says it has also certified six theater riggers, and seven electricians across the state. Nationwide, more than 1,200 workers are certified. ETCP says it targets its certifications to the top third in the industry, who are mostly managers.

Now as his family and IOSHA question bosses about his death,

The State Fair Commission's contract with Local 30 states:

"Neither party will assume liability for any injury (including death) to any persons, or damage to any property arising out of the acts or omissions of the agents, employees or subUnions of the other party."

Local 30's Agent Representative refused to answer any of our questions, and referred us to his attorney Bill Groth, who was not available.

It's unclear at this time if Nathan Byrd was involved in the set-up of the stage. But Byrd's brother told Eyewitness News some co-workers admitted problems with the stage days before the collapse.