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Courtesy Manchester College
Jennifer Haskell, left, and Alina BigJohny.

BigJohny friend is fair accident's 6th victim

INDIANAPOLIS – A 22-year-old college student died Friday from injuries suffered when a strong wind gust toppled metal scaffolding holding lights and other equipment and sent it plunging into fans awaiting a concert by the country duo Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair.

Jennifer Haskell, a Ball State University senior, was one of dozens injured in Saturday’s stage collapse that triggered chaos as hundreds rushed forward to help free those who were trapped, while others tried to flee.

Haskell’s best friend, 23-year-old Alina BigJohny of Fort Wayne, with whom she attended the concert, was one of four people killed immediately. A fifth person, stagehand Nathan Byrd, 51, of Indianapolis, was atop the rigging when it fell and died hours later from his injuries.

Haskell’s uncle, Mike Whited, announced her death in a statement Friday after it was first reported by The Star Press of Muncie.

Haskell was entering her senior year at Ball State University in Muncie, where she was studying sports medicine.

Her uncle said she had planned on becoming an athletic trainer after playing softball and basketball at Monroe Central High School in Parker City, east of Muncie.

“After a long courageous battle, Jenny Haskell died at 8:15 this morning from her injuries sustained from the tragedy at the State Fair,” her family’s statement said. “Jenny’s family would like to thank everyone for their support and prayers during this difficult time. Continued support and prayers for the remaining victims would be greatly appreciated.”

Haskell died at an Indianapolis hospital. It was not clear Friday how many of the approximately four dozen injured in the stage collapse remained hospitalized. State police stopped providing updates on the injured earlier this week. Condition reports have not been available from hospitals.

State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz told WTHR-TV the fair expresses “its deepest sympathies to her family.”

The others killed in the collapse were Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis, who worked for an underwater camera and lighting equipment company; Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago, a gay activist and program manager for a Chicago nonprofit; and Tammy Vandam, 42, a Wanatah homemaker and former disc jockey.

Byrd’s funeral was held Thursday, and BigJohny's was held Friday. Services were scheduled Saturday for Goodrich.

The Central Indiana Community Foundation set up a State Fair Remembrance Fund to raise money for the victims that had raised nearly $107,000 as of Friday, foundation spokesman Mike Knight said. That tally didn’t include donations expected from a Train-Maroon 5 concert Thursday night in Indianapolis.

The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

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