INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana State Fair officials on Thursday were looking into whether changes to fair safety procedures are needed after an accident in which a 4-year-old girl was struck and badly injured by a pickup truck at the fairgrounds.
Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said an initial Indiana State Police report on Wednesday’s accident revealed no “glaring safety issues” but that fair officials will review the details of the accident after this year’s fair ends Sunday.
State police said Madalynn Gembala of Buchanan, Mich., broke free of her mother Wednesday afternoon, darted into a fair access road and was struck by a truck on the road.
She was listed in critical condition at Riley Hospital for Children on Wednesday night before being taken into surgery, hospital spokesman Gene Ford said.
Gembala remained hospitalized Thursday, but Ford said her family has requested no additional information be released.
Wednesday’s accident was the second involving serious injury this week at the fair. A six-horse stagecoach carrying State Fair Queen Erika Burghardt overturned Sunday at the Pepsi Coliseum, sending her and four other passengers to a hospital for treatment.
That accident came a day before Monday’s one-year anniversary of a stage collapse that killed seven people and injured dozens more when high winds toppled rigging onto a crowd awaiting a concert by country duo Sugarland.
That disaster prompted fair officials to draft sweeping overhauls to their emergency plan, hire a director of safety and security and make other organizational changes.
Although fair officials haven’t reviewed the details of Wednesday’s accident, Klotz said the initial police report does not point to any safety shortcomings.
“There wasn’t any kind of glaring safety issue that came out of this accident,” he said. “According to the state police report, it looks pretty unpreventable.”
State Police Capt. David Bursten said Thursday the final accident report has not been filed, but initial reports show the child was struck by the front right tire of a truck driven by Robert Ingalls, 49, of Mason, Mich.
Ingalls wasn’t speeding and apparently committed no traffic violation, Bursten said. A routine blood-alcohol test was performed on Ingalls, but Bursten said police do not expect the results due in a couple of weeks to be positive.
State police said both Gembala’s family and Ingalls are employed at the fair’s midway.
Klotz said the accident occurred next to an area with utility connections for campers that people working at the state fair often use.
He said one initial idea that emerged after the girl’s accident is possibly restricting vehicles in that campground area to campers only and requiring daily-use vehicles to be parked elsewhere.
But he said such a change would not address the issue of traffic on the access road where the girl was struck because that road funnels traffic into the fairground from one of its main access gates.