Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Joey Foley/Getty Images
Tragedy struck before a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday night when a stage collapsed, killing five and injuring an unknown number of concertgoers. The country duo was minutes from performing at the fair in Indianapolis when a violent gust of wind blew the stage and metal scaffolding into the audience. Watch a shocking home video taken by a member of the crowd, below. (WARNING: Footage may be disturbing.)
The catastrophe occurred just before 9 p.m., shortly after opening act Sara Bareilles finished her set. An announcer had informed the audience that a storm might be coming, but said that concert organizers hoped the show would go on. There had been no rain yet when the sudden wind -- estimated to be 60 to 70 mph, near hurricane levels -- lifted the stage off the ground. The metal scaffolding collapsed the hardest onto the VIP section, which was being called the "Sugar Pit" in honor of the band. Five people (including a member of the crew) died in the horrifying accident, and at least 45 people (including several children) were taken to hospitals.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says the severe wind was a "fluke" that the stage crew couldn't have been prepared for. "This is the finest event of its kind in America, this is the finest one we've ever had, and this desperately sad. As far as I can tell a fluke event doesn't change that," Daniels said in a statement. He also praised concertgoers who rushed to the aid of their fellow Hoosiers, helping to unpin those trapped in the debris in the wake of the accident.
Sugarland, the country duo consisting of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, are asking for fans' prayers on their website. "We are alright after our stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair tonight. Many of our fans and friends in Indianapolis may not be," they wrote on Saturday night. "Please keep them in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever form of strength you are able to send. They need you. Thank you."
Singer Nettles issued an additional statement, saying she is "so 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."
Sara Bareilles also released a statement, expressing her sadness at the tragedy and her admiration for the heroism she witnessed. "The accident at the Indiana State Fair felt like a bad dream," she said. "We are shocked and saddened by this horribly tragic circumstance and we are all praying for those affected. The emergency response was incredibly speedy and the people of Indiana as well as the crews from the show were beyond brave and working hard to help each other. My heart aches for the lives lost or injured as well as their families. We will do whatever we possibly can to help heal the hurt from this very sad day."
The Indiana State Fair was closed on Sunday but reopened Monday with a memorial service for the victims.