Sugarland tour manager Hellen Rollens decided to hold the band backstage. Manager Gail Gellman said others felt it was safe to go onstage, but Rollens ultimately acted on her intuition.
Fair officials said the stage that collapsed is erected at the start of the fair each year to provide a framework on which performers can add their own lights or other features. The roof can be raised or lowered based on the act.
Saturday’s accident was at least the fourth stage accident since the start of July. Earlier this month, wind blew over a lighting rig at a music festival in Tulsa, Okla., and lightning toppled a stage under assembly near Quebec City. That followed a summer gale that toppled a stage in July at a music festival in Ottawa, where the band Cheap Trick was performing. Three people were hospitalized.
In 2009, another Canadian storm knocked over a stage in Camrose, Alberta, killing one person and injuring about 75. And that same summer, a stage failed at a Quebec City comedy festival.
The owner of the company that installed the rigging in Indianapolis expressed sympathy for the victims’ families. The Associated Press left a telephone message seeking comment from a spokesman for Mid-America Sound Corp. on Monday.
Industry standards do not spell out exactly how concert organizers should react when unexpectedly severe weather hits an outdoor event using a temporary stage, but they do specify that a safety plan should be in place.
“You have to figure out what are you going to do if some extreme weather event comes up and exceeds what you’re designed for. What’s your operational plan? How do you get people out of the way? How do you lower the roof?” said Karl Ruling, the technical standards manager for PLASA, a professional trade association for businesses that install equipment for entertainment venues.
“Obviously, this is not how they planned it,” he said, “but how it ended up being wrong, I don’t know.”
Most of the building standards used by the entertainment industry require the development of weather-management plans and set guidelines for whether parts of a stage can be dissembled or broken down.
Mr. Ruling said he would prefer the industry adopt the PLASA standards and police itself, but said it would be acceptable if states adopted PLASA standards. He said he’s against states writing their own codes, saying lawmakers can’t do as good a job as those in the business.
The search for answers in Saturday’s accident was almost certain to last for months.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration took nearly five months to investigate the death of Declan Sullivan, a University of Notre Dame student who was killed when the hydraulic lift he was using to film football practice was toppled by a 53 mph wind gust.
The Indiana State Fair Foundation said Monday it has set up a State Fair Remembrance Fund to handle donations for the victims of the stage collapse and their families.
Gov. Mitch Daniels said the deaths have broken the hearts of the state’s residents.
“Our first job is to get back in the business of living, get back in the business of the state fair and back in the business of caring for each other,” he said.