Tragedy struck the Indiana State fairgrounds Saturday (Aug. 13,2011) night just before country music superstars, Sugarland took the stage. A severe thunderstorm warning had just been issued for the area aand concert goers had been told where to go if an evacuation occured when suddenly a large gust of wind struck the area and caused the stage to fall onto the ground.
People sitting closest to the stage in an area known as the ” Sugar Pit” were caught with no where to go as the stage fell down on top of them. Witnesses have said that there was simply no warning. Meteorologists have also said that the gust just suddenly came up before any rain or storm was actually upon the grounds. The wind gust was estimated to be between 60 and 70 miles per hour. As concert-goers in the grandstands watched in horror, the stage collapsed and people were trapped. Concert-goers immediately took action to try to help the injured and trapped people. People near the area where the stage collapsed, began to attempt to pick up the beams that had fell and were dragging people out from under the debris.
Emergency personnel were on the scene within minutes as there are many of them at the fairgrounds during the fair. A triage area was set up in a tunnel under the grandstands to treat those who did not need to be immediately transported to the hospital. Some concert-goers were doctors and nurses who immediately stepped in to help the injured along with the emergency personnel.
News reports say that the injured were taken to area hospitals which are trained to treated trauma patients including Methodist Hospital, Wishard Hopsital, and 3 people were transported to Riley Hospital for Children. Wishard Hospital reported that 18 people were transported there and all had non life threatening injuries. Methodist Hospital reported that they had 13 ambulances with 13 patients transported into the ER and that their staff of doctors responded to the page for added help with 60 doctors in the emergency department, which is double what is usually at work on a Saturday evening. Initial reports are that 43 people were injured and unfortunately, 5 fatalities including one member of the stage crew which was on top of the rigging as it fell.
Sara Bareiles and Sugarland have both sent messages out on Twitter to notify fans that they are safe and offering their condolences to the families who lost loved ones and offering their thoughts and prayers to all who were there. Sara had finished performing and Sugarland was waiting to take the stage when the tragic events occured.
Sources: News reports on several news stations