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File | Associated Press

Fair stage collapse goes under microscope

INDIANAPOLIS -- The stage rigging structure could not handle winds above 40 mph and the Indiana State Fair didn't have an adequate emergency response plan, according to two independent reports released Thursday into the tragedy that killed seven people at the fair last year.

Not only was the fair's preparedness inadequate, but officials did not follow procedures, the report found.

And an engineering analysis found specifically that the concrete barriers tied to the roof and rigging structure via guy wires to provide resistance to wind failed first.

"We will always be heartbroken about what happened on the 13th," said state fair executive director Cindy Hoye.

She said these reports can't change the past – "hindsight is an incredible teacher."

Fair commission Chairman Andre Lacy said Hoye had offered to resign but that he believed she should remain in her position leading the staff of the state-owned fairgrounds and the annual state fair.

A 60 mph wind gust toppled the stage's roofing and scaffolding Aug. 13 at the state fairgrounds before a concert by country duo Sugarland, killing seven people and injuring 58.

Since the tragedy, many have questioned whether fair officials should have evacuated the stage area as the severe storm approached, as well as whether the stage construction was adequate .

New York City-based Thornton Tomasetti, an engineering firm, was charged with investigating the construction of the stage roof and rigging that fell.

Washington, D.C.-based Witt Associates, a public safety and crisis management firm, examined why fair officials did not evacuate and the fair's overall emergency preparedness.

For more on this story, visit www.journalgazette.net for updates or see Friday's print edition of The Journal Gazette. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

nkelly@jg.net

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