Indiana State Fair Death Toll of 5 Could Go Higher After 'Fluke' Storm Fells Stage


"I am so moved," she said. "Moved by the grief of those families who lost loved ones. Moved by the pain of those who were injured and the fear of their families. Moved by the great heroism as I watched so many brave Indianapolis fans actually run toward the stage to try and help lift and rescue those injured. Moved by the quickness and organization of the emergency workers who set up the triage and tended to the injured."

Minutes before Sugarland was scheduled to perform, fair officials warned concert-goers that an approaching storm might force their evacuation into a nearby building. They said they expected the show to go on, but the fast-moving storm changed all that.

"We saw the storm clouds building off in the distance but the wind picked up and we saw dust coming across the fair ground and some different things started to blow around," Neil Smith, sitting with his son about 100 feet from the stage, told "Good Morning America" today. "The awning started to blow apart and the stage just came down."

Said Spencer Smith, 15, who was recording the weather on his dad's iPhone: "I've never seen clouds that dark. And the lightening was almost kind of terrifying. I don't know why, I just wanted to remember it."

The fair, which runs through Aug. 21, was immediately shut down but is scheduled to reopen Monday.

"It's a very sad day at the state fair and our hearts are really breaking, so we appreciate all of you giving us a day to regroup, so we are closed today," Indiana State Fair executive director Cindy Hoye said. "We will reopen at 8 a.m. [Monday], but we will start with a very special, public remembrance gathering at 9am on the free stage."

Though some in the crowd faulted fair officials for not immediately clearing out the stands, it's hard to gauge whether the crowd should have been evacuated on the spot, Neil Smith said, crediting officials for their "prudent" forewarning.

He also praised the others in that audience for quickly working to rescue those hit by the fallen stage. Amid the panic, crowds of people worked to lift debris while others created makeshift stretchers out of seat cushions.

Hoye said officials are trying to determine exactly what went wrong to cause the stage rigging to collapse.

"The structure is owned by company called Mid-America," she said. "They are bringing in their engineer out of Tennessee today."

This section of Indiana is known as a tornado alley. In April 2006, tornado-force winds hit Indianapolis just after thousands of people left a free outdoor concert by John Mellencamp held as part of the NCAA men's Final Four basketball tournament.

And in May 2004, a tornado touched down south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, delaying the start of the Indianapolis 500 and forcing a nearly two-hour interruption in the race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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