Indiana stage collapse: A reopening -- and questions
A solemn prayer and memorial service was held Monday morning at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the five people killed and dozens injured Saturday night after high winds caused stage rigging to collapse on concertgoers lined up for a Sugarland performance.
Those in attendance included relatives of the victims, including Loretta Nash, above, in pink. Her son, Nathan, was among the five dead. The service was covered live by local TV stations, and included Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state officials. Flags were at half-staff. The service also sought to recognize the spirit of the Hoosier state, including the men and women who sprang into action Saturday night, working alongside emergency crews and law enforcement officials to triage the wounded and help others to safety.
“We come today with hearts that are broken, but hearts that are full,” Daniels said during the service. “Our hearts are with you. My heart is full for those who acted in courageous ways. … There was a hero every 10 feet on Saturday night.”
The fair, which closed to the public on Sunday in the wake of the tragedy, now reopens -- and attention turns to the cause of the accident and whether it could have been prevented. An investigation is underway, with state fire marshals and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration leading the way.
The National Weather Service in Indianapolis had been tracking the storm for hours and was in close contact with fair officials. The agency issued a severe thunderstorm warning -- with winds whipping at 77 mph -- at 8:39 p.m., shortly before the collapse.
Daniels said it did not appear that anyone could have predicted such a tragedy. "I'm not clear how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized blast of wind," he said.
Others are not so sure: "They should have told people to get out," said one concertgoer, Jay Kizer, 35, of Whiteland. "But they didn't."
Grief-stricken friends, relatives and strangers alike are remembering the victims on a new Facebook page set up in their honor.
Still to be determined: Were there problems with the stage rigging?
What do you think? Should authorities have evacuated the concert grounds sooner? Or is the governer right when he says that no one could have reasonably predicted such a tragedy?
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
Photo: Loretta Byrd, in pink, at a memorial service at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Her son, Nathan, was among the dead. Credit: Associated Press