INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - I-Team 8 has uncovered surprising information regarding the depth of disorganization the night the stage rigging collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, killing seven people. The report completed by the firm Witt Associates concludes that disorganization led to deadly inaction.
The report concludes that the night the stage rigging fell, no one was clearly in charge. Not one State Fair leader assumed the responsibility of making decisions regarding the weather's possible impact on the concert.
"Nobody here either before during or after Aug. 13 had discussed authority as to who makes these types of decisions," said Ken Mallette, vice president of preparedness services at Witt Associates.
He said state fair leaders failed to follow their own emergency response plan. I-Team 8 obtained a copy of that plan , which states the executive director "acts as the highest level of authority during an emergency." But that night, no one, including Executive Director Cindy Hoye, seemed to know Hoye was in charge.
In fact, Hoye thought the band was in charge. The report quotes her as telling investigators, "The bands had always led, and if the band wanted to go on stage, they went on stage. Nobody is going to tell them what to do."
In the report, Witt Associates is critical of Hoye's position, stating it was State Fair leaders' responsibility "to protect the interest and safety of the public."
I-Team 8's closer examination of the report reveals that on Aug. 13, the night of the collapse, State Fair leaders were not even thinking about how the weather might impact public safety until an off-duty Indiana State Police trooper urged Hoye to evacuate.
The report indicates State Fair leaders' focus was not on public safety,
"It was on the implications of the weather forecast on the timing of the production,” the report said. “It was only when Capt. Weaver, [the off-duty trooper], expressed concern that actions were taken to prepare for evacuation."
But by that time, it was too late.
The State Fair Commission on Thursday made clear, though, that Hoye will not lose her job. Instead, the chairman accepted responsibility, saying he failed to set clear expectations.
"There could have been - whether it was failure or otherwise - more clarity as far as the expectations," said commission Chairman Andre Lacy.
So then had Lacy offered to resign? The chairman refused to answer that question.
I-Team 8 has learned that taxpayers have paid almost $2 million for the two investigations that examined the design, engineering and construction of the stage rigging as well as the State Fair's emergency preparedness. The commission paid $1.6 million for the Thornton Tomasetti report, which analyzed the structural design of the stage rigging. The state paid about $500,000 for the Witt Associates report that examined the fair's emergency preparedness.