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Tough questions emerge as Indiana fair victims are remembered

By Susan Candiotti, CNN
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Gov. Daniels: Try to 'learn lessons'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The company said to own the structure says an investigation is underway
  • Family and friends of those killed say they want answers
  • Indiana governor: Officials are focused on repairs, not "looking for scapegoats"
  • The state fair reopens, beginning with a memorial service

Tune in to "Dr. Drew" at 9 p.m. ET on HLN for a closer look at some of the heroes who instinctively rushed from the audience to help those trapped beneath the scaffolding.

Indianapolis (CNN) -- Family and friends of the people killed when a concert stage collapsed paused to remember their loved ones Monday, as officials began tackling the question on many people's minds: Was anyone at fault?

The Indiana State Fair reopened with a public memorial service for the five people killed when a stage gave way during a storm Saturday night. The accident also injured at least 40 people.

Audience members at the service honored victims with a moment of silence and later sang "Amazing Grace."

Officials Monday were focused on grieving and beginning repairs to get the fair back underway, Gov. Mitch Daniels told CNN.

"Our first instinct in Indiana is not to go rushing around, looking for scapegoats. It's to take care of business, take care of those who've been hurt and then, of course ... study to see if something could have done better and learn any necessary lessons," he said.

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On Sunday he described the stage's collapse as a "freakish accident."

"I'm not saying that we're not going to find many things that could have been done differently," Daniels told CNN Monday. "I'm only saying that I know the people who run this operation. They think safety all the time, and I know that their hearts are broken that, in this case, this event took place as it did."

The fairgrounds were closed Saturday following the accident, which occurred shortly before the country music duo Sugarland was to take the stage before an audience of about 12,000.

Metal scaffolding fell onto the "Sugarpit," a section usually occupied by Sugarland's most ardent fans, about four minutes after authorities took the stage to warn the crowd to seek shelter, according to a timeline of events released by investigators.

Indiana State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said that officials had made the decision to evacuate and that people were on their way to make the announcement when the storm hit.

Video showed the blue canvas top fraying and flapping just seconds before the steel scaffolding gave way, sending a heavy bank of stage lights and metal onto fans closest to the outdoor stage.

John Erickson, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, told CNN Monday that to the best of his knowledge there is no state regulatory agency that inspects scaffolding.

"We don't do scaffolding. We don't do equipment set-up in warehouses and we don't do entertainment venues," he said.

According to Erickson, the Indiana DHS includes the state fire marshal and the state building commissioner.

Cindy Hoye, the fair's executive director, has said the structure is owned by Mid-America Sound, a company that calls itself one of the largest, full-service, concert and event production companies in the United States.

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"All of us at Mid-America Sound are deeply saddened by the devastating tragedy at the Indiana State Fair this past Saturday, August 13," the company said in a statement. "An independent investigation has been initiated as we work to understand, as best we can, what happened."

Calls to Mid-America Sound seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Forecasters had warned heavy rain and strong winds would hit the fair nearly two hours before the storm moved through Saturday. The National Weather Service estimated winds at 60 to 70 mph.

Families and friends of those killed say they want answers.

"I think someone should be held responsible," Judy Semento said.

Her daughter's friend, Tammy Van Dam, 42, lost her life when the stage rigging landed on top of her. Van Dam, of Wanatah, Indiana, was the mother of a 17-year-old daughter.

"When there are strong winds forecast, I think they should (have) pushed the lights (on the rigging) back farther," said Dianne Semento, Van Dan's friend and Judy's daughter.

"If they fell in a storm, fewer people might have been hurt."

Dianne Semento said Van Dam was seated in the VIP "Sugarpit" section, in front of the stage.

"She (Van Dam) was a DJ and she loved country music," Dianne Semento said.

Indiana's Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday that at least two companies with a role in Saturday's concert failed, as required by state law, to report the deaths of their employees within eight hours of the incident.

"By law they're required to do so. It's pretty clear-cut," said IOSHA spokeswoman Thetrice Moseley. "They didn't."

The agency is planning to issue at least two citations, she said.

Among the companies that could be cited is ESG Security Inc., according to Moseley. She said the company employed a guard who was killed.

Moseley added that officials are still trying to determine which company employed union stagehand Nathan Byrd.

Byrd, 51, was severely injured and later died when the stage collapsed Saturday night.

His family attended Monday's memorial at the fairgrounds, where the stagehand was remembered as experienced -- and a daredevil.

"He was fearless, he lived his job. He was a soldier," said his brother, Bryan.

"Nathan was the kind of a guy who would push people out of the way of danger and take it on himself," his brother Randy added.

Byrd's mother said authorities should have canceled the show when they knew a storm was coming.

The Marion County, Indiana, coroner has identified the three women and two men who died as: Van Dam; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago; and Byrd, of Indianapolis.

Van Dam, Goodrich, Bigjohny and Santiago were dead at the scene, while Byrd died later at the hospital, the coroner said.

Last month, a multiton roof fell on the stage during a performance by the classic rock band Cheap Trick. No one was seriously hurt during the incident at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest in Canada.

In Indianapolis, dust swirled just before a gust of wind rushed in and the Indiana stage crashed, concertgoer Jenna Gioe told CNN Monday.

"It was absolute pandemonium" as crowds rushed to get out of the grandstand, she said. Days after the stage collapse, Gioe said she was still struggling to understand the tragic turn of events.

"It's absolutely baffling ... What actually happened, it's beyond all of us," she said.

CNN's Chris Boyette, Alan Duke, Chelsea J. Carter, Leslie Tripp and David Williams contributed to this report.

 
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