Indiana State Fair Reopens, Memorial Held for Victims

Share
Copy

Along with checking for signs of structural problems with the stage, investigators are reviewing whether fair and state officials acted swiftly enough in alerting concertgoers to a severe thunderstorm watch that was issued nearly three hours before the scheduled concert.

Daniels said the wind gust was a "fluke" that no one could have anticipated. Rain had been in the forecast, but not the sudden high winds that damaged the stage.

"It's not clear to me at this stage how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized blast of wind in one place," Daniels said. "The weather service is very good. They were in constant contact, repeated contact with the folks here at the fairgrounds, and they were right about the arrival of the storm. It came 15 or 20 minutes after the tragedy."

"In Indiana the weather can change from one report to another report and that was the case here," State Police Sgt. Dave Bursten said.

Daniels and police officials instead praised the hundreds of people who rushed to help when the stage came down.

While many people fled as the massive structure fell under the force of the winds, hundreds rushed to help the victims, many trying to lift the stage to free people trapped underneath.

"You had law enforcement, you had citizens, you had people jumping into lift pieces of equipment off the injured and the people who were killed in this tragic accident," Bursten said. But some of the people who were there said they aren't so sure.

"There should have been warning the storm was coming," one witness said. "You could tell the sky was getting really dark off to the left."

The crowd had been warned that thunderstorms were approaching and that they might have to evacuate. But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, so many stayed put.

Two minutes later, just before 9 p.m., it was too late.

"The funnel cloud came in and all of a sudden it started twirling around and the next thing I knew, I looked over my shoulder and the stand started coming down," witness Jay Keiser said.

Indiana State Police have said that number of injured could rise, given that some might have been transported privately for emergency care, rather than in ambulances ordered by rescue workers.

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.

Officials today said Saturday's accident was the worst at the Indiana fairgrounds since a 1963 explosion at the fairgrounds coliseum killed 74 people attending an ice skating show.

ABC News' Dean Schabner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...