The scaffolding that collapsed called substandard
The fair's commission did not have adequate emergency planning, report says
The incident during Indiana State Fair left seven people dead last year
Scaffolding that collapsed during a storm and killed seven people during the Indiana State Fair last year was not up to standard, and the fair’s commission did not have adequate emergency planning in place, according to two investigative reports presented Thursday.
“Calculations and in-situ physical testing determined the Jersey barrier ballast (support) system had grossly inadequate capacity to resist both the minimum code-specified wind speed (68 miles per hour) and the actual wind speed that was present at the time of the failure (approximately 59 miles per hour),” according to a report by Thornton Tomasetti Inc., an engineering firm.
The findings were presented by representatives from the firm and officials from Witt Associates, a public safety and crisis management consulting group.
The National Weather Service had estimated winds of 60 to 70 mph were raking the area when the incident occurred in August. A massive gust of wind brought down the stage, killing five people and injuring dozens. Two others later died as a result of the collapse.
“A big gust of wind came through. You could see a lot of people panicking. All the scaffolding and speakers – all that came crashing down – and the whole stand just collapsed,” said Aaron Richman at the time, who witnessed the collapse.
Sugarland, the country music duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush who were scheduled to perform during the fair, issued a statement Thursday saying that, “In all the back-and-forth between the lawyers, the suggestion’s been made that we’ve somehow been trying to avoid having to answer questions about last summer’s terrible tragedy.”
“This is simply not true,” they said. “There is no one who wants to get to the bottom of what happened more than we do, which is why we’re ready, willing, and able to give these depositions today and tomorrow.”
They added that they “want all the facts to come out, not only for the sake of all the victims and their loved ones, but also so we can make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
Allan Mayer, the group’s spokesman added: “The fact is that Jennifer and Kristian never told anyone not to delay the concert because of the weather. They care deeply about their fans and, as they’ve said, nobody wants to get to the bottom of what happened more than they do.”
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said his administration “will insist on immediate and complete implementation of the recommendations in this report.”
“But it’s also now clear that most, if not all states, have been deficient in this area and have much to learn from this tragedy,” he said in a statement. “We will share freely all these findings and suggestions with any state who will listen, starting later this month at a national meeting in Indianapolis about national safety standards for outdoor temporary stages and structures.”
In February, the Indiana Department of Labor announced penalties totaling $80,800 following a worker safety investigation into the collapse.
The largest fines – totaling $63,000 for what the agency said were three “knowing violations” – were levied on Mid-America Sound Corp., which built the stage structure and leased it to the fair.
Metal scaffolding supporting the stage lights fell onto a crowd of fans and workers as a storm swept through the Indianapolis fairgrounds on August 13, 2011, right before Sugarland was to perform.