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Five die as stage collapses at outdoor concert

By | Published on Monday 15 August 2011

Indiana State Fair

Five people died this weekend when stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis collapsed after being hit by freak gusts of wind just before country stars Sugarland were due to take to the stage.

An announcer at the event had warned concert-goers that a storm was approaching just before tragedy struck, but said it was hoped Sugarland’s concert could go ahead. Audience-recorded video footage then shows how strong winds blew up in the space of seconds, forcing the large stage rig to come collapsing down onto the waiting crowd just as quickly.

According to local media reports, four people died immediately, while one more died later in hospital. Over 40 others were being treated for injuries incurred during the stage collapse. State Governor Mitch Daniels told reporters later that many precautions had been taken ahead of the event to cope with stormy weather, but that the stage collapse had been caused by a freak gust of wind – between 60 and 70 mph – that could not have been foreseen.

Sugarland were in an underground back stage area preparing for their show when the accident occurred. According to reports, their manager had suggested they delay the start of their show to wait and see how bad the oncoming storm would be. The delay may well have a saved lives, partly because the band weren’t on the stage at the time, and partly because, as a result, fewer audience members had moved closer to the staging area.

In a statement released yesterday, Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles said: “I am so moved. Moved by the grief of those families who lost loved ones. Moved by the pain of those who were injured and the fear of their families. Moved by the great heroism as I watched so many brave Indianapolis fans actually run toward the stage to try and help lift and rescue those injured. Moved by the quickness and organisation of the emergency workers who set up the triage and tended to the injured”.

You can view footage of the collapse, shot by an audience member here. Please be aware that the video contains images that you may find disturbing.