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IN Stage Collapse - A First Hand Account & How You Can Help
by Charley McCain,posted Oct 27 2011 9:00AM
As many of you know, I am a born & bred Hoosier, so the IN State Fair stage collapse tragedy hits especially close to home. I have stood right there and watched concerts in that area where people lost their lives. I have friends who were at the concert, and friends who lost people close to them because of those high winds. I've read many posts and comments from people wanting to place blame, or wondering why fans just didn't "take cover because it was obvious a storm was coming". My high school friend, Steve Pierson from WWBL, was there, and maybe after reading his account, you'll see just how unexpected that day's events were to everyone.
In Steve's words: "I was in Sec 8 row 19 in the grandstand. Sara Bareilles did her part of the show and it was nice outside, sunshine, little breeze, not too hot. They set up the stage for Sugarland. Off in the distance you could see some dark clouds moving in. After they were done setting up the stage, an announcer came to the stage (Hank FM 97.1 WLHK) and said that Sugarland was about to take the stage and there is a storm in the distance. They were going to try and start the show and if it were to start raining, then everyone could take cover in the Pepsi Coliseum and other buildings, then when the rain passed, they would start the show again. He walked off the stage and in less then 2 min, the winds came in and sand was everywhere, I thought immediately - tornado! People were starting to panic and running for the exits. It was too full to go anywhere so I threw myself over 2 of the people that were with me and hoped for the best because I was truly scared!! All of a sudden, the wind picked up even more and as we are looking forward, you see the top of the stage where the tarp is flip up, the stage swayed a little left then just went to the right and down forward! Then EVERYONE panicked and I thought, we have to get going before this grandstand goes down too! It was metal bleachers and just the scary thought of the stage blowing down made you feel like it could happen to the grandstand too! I felt for the first time in my life, I was a goner! We grabbed firmly and headed down the stairs to get to safety in the buildings! People were in a frenzy! The police, fire trucks, ambulances were there instantly! We got to the buildings and little girls were crying because they couldn't find their parents so we helped them find them, then there was a man in a wheel chair and he couldn't get through so we got him inside. The lightening and rain picked up for a few minutes then let up so we though we would head to the vehicles. We had to walk that direction towards the stage and around to get to it. We met the triage center and it was horrible!! I saw a lady with her foot upside down, and another with a missing limb, we got around to the tunnels and got across to where our vehicles were and saw the downed stage! I can't imagine how crazy 9-11-01 must have been if this was only a portion of that because this was crazy, scary!! There were 4 light people in the top of the stage when it went down. They reported there were 2 people crushed by the large hanging speakers that came down. There was a doctor that had been in the front row who said on television that there was a 3 or 4 year old girl beside him and he got out of the way but she didn't and he had to stop the bleeding of her compound fractured arm! I feel for the families of the lost and hurt! The youngest who didn't make it was only 23 from Fort Wayne! I was horrified in the Grandstand but can't even imagine what the people near the stage went through!"
Another friend reports that one of the victims, the spotlight operator Nathan Byrd, was a single fahter of two teenagers. The family is struggling to find money for the funeral, for the kids to have clothes to wear to the funeral, and money for school clothes and supplies. If there is any way you can help this family, the local Stagehand Union has set up a fund for your donations:
IATSE LOCAL 30
ATTN:NATHAN BYRD FAMILY
1407 EAST RIVERSIDE DRIVE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-2037
A State Fair Remberance Fund has also been set up to accept donations to help the families of those killed and those injured. Donations can be made online here.
I know there are lots of causes, and unfortunately lately there have been more than a few tragedies that have needed our donations. But if you cannot make a monetary donation, there's still one thing you can do...pray.
To my beloved Hoosiers, my heart aches for you all. Your strength will unite you and get you thru this terrifying event...just know you're in our thoughts and prayers.