ISP Releases Fair Disaster Timeline, Investigation Begins

Indiana State Police officials say investigations like this can take weeks or months to complete.

Stage Collapse

Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU

The aftermath of the stage collapse shows tangled steel beams where concert attendees rushed in to lift the metal canopy off survivors and help them to safety.

Indiana State Police are calling for an “accidental death investigation” into Saturday’s state fair stage collapse.

Representatives from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and the Marion County Coroner’s Office are also conducting their own investigations. ISP Sergeant David Bursten said investigations of this nature can take weeks or months to complete and there will be no information released relating to specific aspects of it.

A timeline released by Indiana State Police on Monday shows the fair staff contacted the National Weather Service four times between 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. regarding weather updates.

By 8:00 p.m., the National Weather Service had advised a storm with possible hail and 40 mile per hour winds would be reaching the fairgrounds by 9:15 p.m.

At 8:09 p.m., the National Weather Service in Indianapolis sent an alert to State Fair staff regarding the severe thunderstorm watch.

By 8:30 p.m., Indiana State Police and ESG Security personnel had moved to the grandstand to assist with a potential evacuation, and at 8:39 p.m., a severe thunderstorm warning for Marion County was issued by the National Weather Service.

At 8:45 p.m., a preliminary announcement was delivered by Marion County advising attendees of the approaching severe weather and gave attendees instructions on where to seek shelter.

The stage collapsed minutes later killing Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne; and 29-year-old Christina Santiago of Chicago. Nathan Byrd, 51, of Indianapolis later died from his injuries at Methodist Hospital.

By 8:51 p.m., on-site Indianapolis Fire Department Personnel arrived to begin rescue operations and minutes later at 8:55 p.m., Indianapolis Metro Police Emergency Response Group arrived at the collapse scene.

Officials from the Marion County Coroners Office arrived at 9:15 p.m., and by 10:03 p.m., the incident was upgraded to a Mass Casualty Incident Level 3.

At 10:05 p.m., all patients, including the 5 later confirmed dead, had been transported to local hospitals, ISP said.

K-9 search teams from Indiana Task Force One were requested at 10:26 p.m., to assist with searches already being conducted by rescue personnel. The units arrived by 10:56 p.m., according to the timeline.

K-9 Primary and Secondary searches were all clear by 11:27 p.m., and at 11:46 p.m., all rescue operations were concluded.

Indianapolis Fire Department personnel expanded the search to the entire fairground to ensure no persons were injured or otherwise still in the area, said ISP. By 1:53 a.m., the search was reported all clear.

The fair resumed Monday morning, beginning with a memorial service for those who were killed or injured by the collapse, after being shut down Sunday.

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