Toll in Indiana fair stage collapse rises to six

By Reuters
Saturday, August 20, 2011 16:28 EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – The death toll from the collapse of an outdoor concert stage in heavy wind just before a show at the Indiana State Fair last week rose to six on Friday with the death of a Ball State University senior.

Jennifer Haskell of Muncie, who had attended the fair with a friend who was also killed, died on Friday, the same day her friend Alina BigJohny, 23, was buried in Fort Wayne.

More than 40 people were injured in the stage collapse on Saturday night when a blast of wind whipped through the grandstand area just minutes before the country duo Sugarland was set to begin performing.

“After a long, courageous battle, Jenny Haskell died at 8:15 this morning from her injuries sustained from the tragedy at the State Fair,” Haskell’s parents said in a statement released by Ball State University officials.

Haskell, 22, was majoring in exercise science and was active on the campus landscaping crew.

Governor Mitch Daniels has asked the Indiana Inspector General to assign several staffers to the State Fair Commission to assist in the fact finding and documentation procurement aspect of an investigation into the incident.

The fair commission has hired Thornton Tomasetti, a New York engineering company, to coordinate and conduct the structural portion of the investigation. The Washington D.C.-based firm of Witt Associates will do an analysis of the fair’s preparedness and response to the event.

(Reporting by Susan Guyett; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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