IBJNews

Tapes show concern before Indiana stage collapse

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A recording of dispatch radio calls shows that emergency workers were expressing concern about severe weather just minutes before winds ripped through the Indiana State Fair and caused a fatal stage collapse.

WTHR-TV in Indianapolis obtained recordings of Marion County dispatch communications from the night of Aug. 13, when thousands of fans were waiting to see a concert by country music group Sugarland. The stage rigging toppled into the grandstand, and seven people died.

In one excerpt, workers are warned about five minutes before the collapse that severe weather would be moving into the area in 30 minutes or less and are advised to "use your best judgment and find shelter when needed."

Two minutes later, another radio user asks if concert fans have been released from the grandstands. The response: "I have no information on that, I will check and advise."

Moments later, a 60-mph wind gust swept through the area, toppling the stage rigging into the grandstands. Four people were killed, and three people died later. More than 40 others were injured.

An emcee had announced over the loudspeakers that severe weather was possible and told fans where to seek shelter if an evacuation was necessary, though an evacuation wasn't ordered. Fair officials have said they were preparing to order an evacuation when the stage fell.

It wasn't immediately clear Thursday which agencies were using the county's radio system that night, though emergency medical service workers are referenced several times. Indiana State Police also are referenced, but a spokesman said state police weren't on the tapes.

WTHR obtained the tapes through a public records request. Marion County didn't respond Thursday to a request for the recordings from The Associated Press, and a message was left for the county's communications chief.

An attorney representing the estates of three people killed in the collapse said the tapes showed fair officials didn't take the severe weather seriously enough.

"The tapes confirm exactly what we've been saying from day one: This was no unforeseeable event. It was predictable and preventable," lawyer Kenneth J. Allen said.

Stephanie McFarland, a spokeswoman for the Indiana State Fair Commission, declined to comment on the tapes but noted a consultant had been hired to investigate how officials prepared and responded to the accident.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • dave
    Well Dave(from another Dave), your thinking is similar to my wife's. Personal responsibility. However I offer a different opinion. No, fans were not hostage but I bet many fans didn't know how bad the weather was about to get. The storm was not a surprise but being on ground level, in front of the stage, with the storm approaching from the North and West, fans really could not see it coming. AND the grandstand publc address mentioned that the show would go on and if the weather would get worse, they would evacuate. It never came.
  • Really
    Have the fans been released? Fans were not hostages and no one forced them to stay. i think the tape shows that they were looking at releasing fans, but the weather came in by surprise. One could argue it was predictable from earlier in the day when the news broadcasted the possibility of serve weather, so had the fans stayed home, no harm would have occurred!

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

    2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

    3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

    4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

    5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

    ADVERTISEMENT