As many of you know, tragedy struck at the Indiana State Fair this weekend when a stage collapsed as fans waited anxiously for Sugarland to perform. More than forty people are injured and at least five have been declared dead at this point. So who is responsible?
The governor of Indiana showed compassion as he praised his “Hoosiers” for helping each other in the midst of the chaos, but even he is saying that this was basically a freak gust of wind and nobody could have prevented what happened. But with five dead already, it’s safe to say there will be huge lawsuits. Between the fairgrounds, promoters, the bands, set-up crew, and sponsors it probably won’t be too hard to prove negligence somewhere in the night.
To everyone’s credit the staff of the fair contacted the National Weather Service four times before the accident, as seen in the investigative timeline. The opening act performed without a hitch, and in between acts Indiana State Police brought in more officers to help evacuate people. An announcement was made to the crowd that there was a severe storm on the horizon but the storm really wasn’t expected for another 30-45 minutes. Only four minutes after the announcement however, the stage, scaffolding, and sound and lighting equipment were all turned into merely rubble.
Be expecting big changes in mobile staging, outdoor concerts, and amphitheaters. Especially in warmer states like Florida where outdoor concerts can be held year-round, event insurance rates may hike up. Also, expect a lot of outdoor performances to be more wary of bad weather and cancel more easily. There may also be changes in stage set-up as far as stricter safety regulations on scaffolding and foundation.
As far as preparedness goes I’m not really sure there’s much that could’ve been foreseen since this wind gust was reportedly out of nowhere, but please just use common sense and please don’t let money or an attraction let you ignore the warning signs. Make sure you’re paying attention to your surroundings; there are even apps now that can alert you when severe weather is heading your way. Utilize whatever tools you have to keep your friends and family out of harm’s way. Our prayers are sincerely with all of those affected by this tragic accident.