Report: Confusion and Chaos in Leadup to Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

Apr 12, 2012

A new report describes confusion leading up to the stage collapse at last summer’s Indiana State Fair that killed seven people. According to the report, Fair officials weren’t properly prepared for emergencies, and the stage that collapsed wasn’t built to withstand strong winds.

Despite warnings of an approaching storm with winds beyond what the stage could handle, State Fair officials were mired in confusion about whether to cancel or continue with a concert by country music group Sugarland.

The report says minutes before the stage collapsed, State Fair executive director Cynthia Hoye told an announcer to advise fans on how to seek shelter, instead of telling people to evacuate.

Fair officials twice asked Sugarland to delay or cancel the show, according to the report, but those officials ultimately acquiesced to the band’s refusal to delay because of “an ambiguity of authority and lack of formal protocol” in the emergency preparations.

The state of Indiana has settled with victims for a collective $11 million, after the state legislature voted to give victims more than the $5 million maximum liability under Indiana law.