Troubling Findings in the Investigation of the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse
In a report released this week investigators concluded that the Indiana State Fair stage, which collapsed prior to a concert last summer killing seven people, failed to meet proper safety standards. In addition, fair officials did not have a fully developed emergency plan in place to deal with this kind of disaster. This unpreparedness is simply inexcusable.
Testing revealed that the stage structure could not withstand as low as 25 mph wind gusts. Gusts reached around 59 mph when the stage collapsed. This stage was clearly far from equipped to handle the strong wind gusts, which are fairly common in the Midwest. As a Chicago injury lawyer, I am shocked that organizers for a large event like this could overlook such an important safety concern.
The lack of organization among fair officials is equally appalling. According to the report, “an ambiguity of authority” resulted in uncertainty as to who was in charge of deciding whether to postpone the concert. Furthermore, multiple individuals including a state police captain and a band manager, urged officials to cancel the show a mere minutes before the collapse. Yet, band members pushed for the show to go on. In situations like these, I have seen that it is always much better to err on the side of caution. Simply put, why take the risk?
Unfortunately, because lack of communication among many other errors, officials rolled the dice with the always unpredictable Midwest weather and because of this, seven people lost their lives and numerous others were injured.
People who attend large events like this deserve to know that measures have been taken to keep them safe in the event of a catastrophe. Sadly, last August, a complete lack of care by Indiana State Fair officials put every single attendee in danger and seven people died.