Nightly News | August 15, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: It's become something of a modern-day cliche. After a disaster, in this case the collapse of that massive stage in a bad storm at the Indiana State Fair , people like us come on the air and ask questions like 'Could it have been prevented?' Organizers, first responders, victims' families will all be asking themselves that question for years to come. The truth is the National Weather Service is so good and forecasting has become so accurate, bad weather seldom arrives these days without warning. But dealing with big crowds and a big venue is something else, and now the people of Indiana are dealing with a massive tragedy and a lot of questions after a beautiful summer night at a great state fair was blown away and five people are dead. We begin tonight with NBC 's Ron Mott in Indianapolis . Ron , good evening.
RON MOTT reporting: Brian , good evening to you. Investigators will try to pinpoint what part of this stage structure failed, leading to Saturday's dramatic collapse, this as family members of the victims and others are questioning whether more should have been done to keep people safe. It was a breathtaking sight, the stage crumpling in a heap during a windstorm. And tonight, questions about whether this scene could have been prevented and why stronger warnings weren't issued to concertgoers to take cover.
Unidentified Woman #1: As we grieve today...
MOTT: This morning, the state fair reopened, a somber undertone.
Unidentified Woman #2: Let us pray .
MOTT: Prayers for the five people who died . Governor Mitch Daniels fought back tears, praising those who rushed the stage to free people trapped underneath.
Governor MITCH DANIELS: I cannot tell you how proud I am to be the employee of six and a half million people like that, and I bet you share that pride too.
MOTT: The dead include 49-year-old Glenn Goodrich , a father of two who worked security; 23-year-old Alina Bigjohny , who just landed her first teaching job; 29-year-old Christina Santiago was a Chicago community activist for women's and gay rights; and 51-year-old spotlight technician Nathan Byrd , father of two teens, working high up in the rigging when it collapsed. His brother Bryan haunted by what-ifs.
BRYAN: When they knew the storm was coming, why they didn't start evacuating people sooner, that's my question. You know, I'm just -- me and my family is just crushed over this. We all loved Nate very much. He's sorely going to be missed.
MOTT: While the band Sugarland waited to take the stage that eventually collapsed, another outdoor venue 15 miles away evacuated a crowd waiting to hear the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra .
Mr. TOM RAMSEY (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra): When in doubt, send them out is the -- is the rule we live by.
MOTT: The head of the state fair said officials here had reached the same conclusion but never got a chance to make the announcement because the storm hit sooner than expected.
Ms. CINDY HOYE (Indiana State Fair Executive Director): As dark as that cloud was, we were on our way backstage to get up onstage and announce to ask people to seek that shelter.
MOTT: The head of the state fair says this investigation will be systematic and structured, and like everyone else, she wants answers too, but that they
will simply take some time. Brian: Ron Mott starting us off from Indianapolis tonight. Ron , thanks.