Report: Collapsed Ind. fair stage didn't meet code

April 13, 2012 3:50:42 PM PDT
An engineering review released Thursday found that the stage rigging that collapsed and killed seven people during last summer's Indiana State Fair wasn't built strong enough to meet state building codes.

Their conclusions are that poor design contributed to the collapse and an effort to postpone the show because of the weather was stopped by the band that was about to perform.

Fans were waiting for the country music duo Sugarland to perform when the tragedy occurred.

Even if it meant blaming state officials, the State of Indiana hired two independent firms to get to the bottom of what exactly happened the night of August 13.

One firm studied the construction of the stage, while the other looked into the emergency preparations.

The reports also made recommendations on how to prevent another tragedy.

The storm was well predicted, but the band, insisted the show must go on. That is what one report concluded about last August's Indiana State Fair tragedy that killed seven people and injured dozens more.

Presenting its findings to the fair commission, the consulting firm Witt Associates says fair officials and State Police asked the country act several times to delay its performance, a band representative responded, 'It is only rain, we can play."

A few minutes later, as the weather became more severe, fair executive director Cindy Hoye and a state police captain walked backstage to call the concert off, but they never got the chance.

"Before they got to make the announcement, the structure collapsed," said Kenneth Mallette of Witt Associates.

An engineering firm concluded the stage wasn't built to withstand wind speeds required by building codes, nor did it have adequate lateral support.

"Once gravity had taken over there was no way for the structure to support it and ultimately failed," said Scott Nacheman.

Thursday's reports also blame state fair officials for the lack of an emergency protocol. Hoye says she can't change the past, but can learn for the future.

"Not a night goes by that I don't replay the events in my head over and over again," she said.

Chicagoan Christina Santiago was killed in the stage collapse. Her attorney Kenneth Allen says Sugarland was more concerned about making money and keeping a concert schedule than their fans.

"They gambled with the lives of seven people and the health of scores of others," Allen said. "Those other people are the ones that paid the debt of Sugarland."

Allen represents several victims from the accident and is in the process of deposing Sugarland members Jennifer Nettles and Kristin Bush. Both are named in lawsuits.

The band released a statement Thursday saying they want all the facts to come out and they want to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.