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Entries in Indianapolis (13)

Monday
Aug222011

Update: Death 'Imminent' for Seventh Victim of Indiana Stage Collapse

Joey Foley/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The death of a seventh victim of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse is apparently imminent, according to corrected reports from local and national news outlets.

Earlier reports citing the Marion County Coroner's Office had erroneously stated that 24-year-old Meagan Toothman had passed, but officials have clarified earlier statements, saying now that Toothman is on life support, with "death imminent," according to ABC News affiliate WRTV.

On Friday, officials confirmed a sixth person -- Jennifer Haskell, a 22-year-old college senior at Ball State University -- had died as a result of the accident.

More than 40 people were injured Aug. 13 when a stage at the Indiana State Fair buckled and collapsed during a thunderstorm.

State officials continue to investigate the role weather played in the stage’s collapse and whether concert organizers took the proper measures in alerting people to the impending danger.

The crowd had been warned that thunderstorms were approaching and that they might have to evacuate. But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, so many stayed put.

Two minutes later, just before 9 p.m., it was too late.

"The funnel cloud came in and all of a sudden it started twirling around and the next thing I knew, I looked over my shoulder and the stand started coming down," witness Jay Keiser said.

Officials have said the accident was the worst at the Indiana fairgrounds since a 1963 explosion at the fairgrounds coliseum killed 74 people attending an ice skating show.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Details Emerge on Indiana Stage Collapse Victims

Joey Foley/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Snapshots of the victims of the stage collapse that killed five people in Indianapolis over the weekend are emerging while many of the at least 40 injured people are fighting for their lives in hospitals.

The nightmarish scene took place Saturday night at the Indiana State Fair, when winds of up to 70 mph blew down thousands of pounds of steel scaffolding, wooden beams, lighting, sound and other equipment of an outdoor stage down as 12,000 people waited for a Sugarland concert.

The five victims of the accident include: 42-year-old Tammy Vandham of Wanatah, Indiana; Glen Goodrich, a 49-year-old father of two from Indianapolis; and Nathan Bird, a 51-year-old stagehand who has on top of the rigging when it fell.  On Sunday night, vigils were held for 29-year-old Christina Santiago of Chicago and Alina Bigjohny of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who was 23.

Others still fighting for their lives include a 5th grader identified simply as "Jade."  The girl's family issued a statement "to thank those who have been praying for her and ask them to continue praying."

The state fair will be open again on Monday for the first time since the incident, with Gov. Mitch Daniel attending a memorial service to remember the five that died.  The service will take place on the fairgrounds Monday morning.

Indiana State Police have said that the number of those injured could rise, given that some might have been transported privately for emergency care, rather than in ambulances ordered by rescue workers.

Gov. Daniels said the wind gust was a "fluke" that no one could have anticipated.  Rain had been in the forecast, but not the sudden high winds that damaged the stage.

"It's not clear to me at this stage how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized blast of wind in one place," Daniels said.  "The weather service is very good.  They were in constant contact, repeated contact with the folks here at the fairgrounds, and they were right about the arrival of the storm.  It came 15 or 20 minutes after the tragedy."

"In Indiana the weather can change from one report to another report and that was the case here," State Police Sgt. Dave Bursten said.

But some of the people who were there said they aren't so sure.

"There should have been warning the storm was coming," one witness said.  "You could tell the sky was getting really dark off to the left."

The crowd had been warned that thunderstorms were approaching and that they might have to evacuate.  But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, so many stayed put.

Two minutes later, just before 9 p.m., it was too late.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul042011

Body of Dead Woman Found in Indianapolis Creek

Comstock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Indianapolis police are investigating the death of a woman, whose body was found in a creek on the northeast side of the city on Sunday night.
 
The location, Fall Creek, is about 65 miles north of Bloomington, Ind., where missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer was last seen on June 3.

Witnesses saw the body floating in the water amid some debris just before 7 p.m., according to local reports.

Police say they cannot provide even a basic description of the body, which was badly decomposed.

"We're not able to determine any type of identity, not even a race at this point, because the body is so decomposed," Kendale Adams, Indianapolis police public information officer, told ABC News affiliate WRTV. "Once we find out who she is, then we can backtrack and try to determine the events that led to her demise."
 
Bloomington police are in contact with the homicide detectives investigating the case, according to a spokeswoman, and the Marion County Coroner's Office will conduct an autopsy Tuesday morning.
 
Spierer disappeared a month ago after a night out with friends at Kilroy's Sports Bar in Bloomington. No arrests have been made in the case, but DNA samples have been gathered from several people thought to have been among the last to see her.

At a July 1 press conference, Spierer's parents urged their daughter's friends to share information that could help in the search for the missing 20-year-old.

"I want to say to the person who has Lauren or has harmed Lauren: Shame on you! In relationship to that, the person who knows this person who's not coming forward with the information, I beg you to come forward," Charlene Spierer said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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