Five Confirmed Dead in Sugarland Stage Collapse at Indiana State Fair
UPDATE | State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz has confirmed a fifth person has died. Governor Mitch Daniels on Sunday called the deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair a "freakish accident" as officials cancel the day's activities to assess what happened.
-- Earlier Report From Saturday Night Below --
Powerful gusts of wind brought down the stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis Saturday night, resulting in at least four deaths and scores of injuries during a country music concert that was set to feature the act Sugarland.
An Indiana State Police official confirmed four deaths and at least 40 injuries to the Indianapolis Star. Later at a press conference, state police Sgt. Dave Bursten warned, "I want to be very frank that there could be other deaths."
According to reports and video footage, parts of the grandstand stage swayed and collapsed shortly before 9 p.m., about 30 minutes after "Love Song" singer Sara Bareilles finished her opening set. Star reporter Dave Lindquist, on Twitter, noted that he saw threatening clouds "rolling in from the west" and moments later reported, "Tragedy at fair concert. Entire stage collapses on track."
It happened quickly and dramatically as thousands of fans watched in horror.
"The gust of wind came, there was no rain yet and the production fell from left to right," Lindquist recounts in the IndyStar.com report. "And you could see, you could clearly see people were under the footprint of the rigging."
Rescue crews and fairgoers swarmed the scene of the stage collapse and began working to save those trapped in the wreckage. Complicating matters, heavy rain and winds estimated as high as 60 mph hit the area immediately following the collapse. At a press conference from the grounds, an official said that crowd was warned around 8:45 p.m. that rough weather was approaching and that they were to move from the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand to the nearby Pepsi Coliseum.
Hours after the tragedy, officials announced the fair would be closed Sunday but hopefully reopen on Monday. "Our prayers are with the families of all affected," the state fair said in an earlier message.
According to reports, there were about 12,000 people there to see Sugarland perform. The band quickly tweeted a message to fans telling them they were safe.
"We are all right," the band said in a statement. "We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you'll join us. They need your strength."
Opener Bareilles responded with shock on Twitter, saying, "I'm speechless and feel so helpless. Please send love and prayers to Indianapolis tonight. My heart aches for the lives lost."