Indiana State Fair Officials: Sugarland Stage Collapse a 'Freakish Act of God'

6:28 AM PST 08/17/2011 by Lindsay Powers
Joey Foley/Getty Images

Spokesman Andy Klotz says procedures to warn the public of bad weather won’t be changed, despite five deaths.

Despite a stage collapse caused by bad weather that killed five people and sent 48 to the hospital, officials at the Indiana State Fair defend their safety policies -- and say they won't change them.

Fair spokesman Andy Klotz told local Indy Channel 6 on Tuesday that there were three similar storms the week leading up to Sugarland’s Saturday performance, and no injuries.

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He says the decision was not made to save money in re-evaluating the fair's safety procedures.

"That decision, nobody's thinking about dollars. We are there to protect the public," Klotz said.

Klotz calls the collapse "a freakish act of God" because there was no other damage anywhere on the fairgrounds.

"You will see how isolated the damage was. That was the only thing that was affected was the roof over the main stage," Klotz said. "The very large tent which was used for catering right next to the grandstand didn't have a flap out of place."

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Not all fairgoers agreed with the decision.

"Maybe what we have in place needs to be reevaluated to see if there is a better way of letting people know when to seek safe haven," said attendee Geri Sherrell on Tuesday. Fair organizers decided to evacuate, but the announcer was unaware and only told people to seek shelter. Three minutes later, the stage collapsed.

Sugarland on Tuesday announced plans for a private memorial.

Indiana State Fair officials say the proceeds from a concert Thursday by Train and Maroon 5 will benefit the victims of the stage collapse. The concert has been relocated to downtown Indianapolis.

Sugarland resumes its tour on Thursday.

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