Minutes before the award-winning country band Sugarland was about to perform on stage at the Indianapolis State Fair on Saturday, Aug. 13, winds estimated at 60 to 70 mph knocked over the stage’s framework, causing the stage to give out and collapse on top of the audience. A dramatic video of the stage collapse and rescue response has been put on Youtube and can be seen below.
Prior to the stage’s collapse, the band’s tour manager decided to hold everyone back from going on stage for a few minutes due to the temperamental weather. A smart decision that most likely saved their lives.
According to Indiana State police officials, they had warned the crowd to evacuate due to severe weather conditions minutes before the stage toppled over into the front row of the audience. The fatal event occurred at around 8:45 p.m. witnesses said.
Eyewitnesses described the terrifying details of the scene to reporters: “There was a splash of rain, and a horrible noise, and people came running down the ramp… then we saw a truss fall and then the whole thing went down and blacked the ramp out.”
“It was like it was in slow motion. You couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”
“Then we heard screams. We heard people just come running.”
Five people were killed and at least forty-five were injured and taken to area hospitals due to the stage collapse. It is rumored that the death toll could rise, because Indianapolis police have said that those hospitalized had suffered a range of injuries from minor bruises and scrapes to critical conditions.
An Indiana State Police representative announced that the Indianapolis State Fair will be closed on Sunday, will reopen on Monday with a service to honor those who died in the accident.
After the collapse, Sugarland sent out the following tweet in regards to the injured: “We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you’ll join us. They need your strength.”
Sara Bareilles, who performed as Sugarland’s opening act that night, also took to Twitter after the incident, tweeting: “Fortunately we are all safe, but a tragic stage accident has injured some folks in Indiana. Our prayers are with them and their families,” and “I’m speechless and feel so helpless. Please send love and prayers to Indianapolis tonight. My heart aches for the lives lost.”
Raw footage of the stage collapse, with people in the audience responding and trying to help, and the rescue response with radio intercepts, can be watched in the video player below. Be aware that some of the footage is unsettling.