A sudden gust of strong wind that toppled a concert stage at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, killing five peple and injuring at least 45 others, has been called a "fluke" by the state's governor.
Four people were instantly killed when metal scaffolding fell on them. A fifth person died at a hospital, according to Indiana State Police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten.
The victims were identified as Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago; Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Ind.; Glenn Goodrich, 49, and Nathan Byrd, 51, both of Indianapolis. Byrd died overnight.
Santiago, a manager at Chicago's leading health center for the gay and lesbian community, and her partner, Alisha Brennon, had been among the first couples to obtain a civil union in Cook County when it became legal earlier this year, a friend told the Chicago Tribune. Brennon was still hospitalized in critical condition.
Santiago and Brennon both had mentioned about the concert on their Facebook page, described the evening as "perfect."
According to Dan McCarthy, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Indiana, the wind was much stronger than the estimated speed 60 to 70 mph.
Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana State, said although precautions were taken before Saturday night's storm, such a strong gust was beyond everyone's imagination. The accident is "desperately sad" and a "fluke event," he said.
Forty-five people were taken to hospitals, but some people may have gone by themselves, Bursten said. According to Indiana University Health, 12 of the 26 people, which the hospital treated, were still hospitalized, including three at its children's hospital.
Dean Silas, a physician who lives in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Ill., was seated in the grandstand and arrived at the scene within five minutes. Some died immediately, he told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview Sunday. He said he saw three bodies already covered with plastic.
According to Silas, after the stage collapsed, he and others rushed to help trapped fans. Silas said he helped to carry some of the injured to a triage area under the grandstand.
Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles told the Associated Press. "I am so moved," she said. "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. Moved by the quickness and organization of the emergency workers who set up the triage and tended to the injured."
Following the accident, Sunday’s activities were canceled. According to event officials, the fair is expected to resume Monday with a service honoring the victims which will run through Aug. 21.