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Dateline: Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Investigated by 9/11 Firm

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The Dateline NBC episode “Twist of Fate” investigates the natural disaster that happened at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, 2011. That evening, thousands of people gathered for an outdoor concert by the band Sugarland at the State Fair. Singer Sara Bareilles was the opening act. After her performance, while members of Sugarland were on the tour bus getting ready to go on stage, a wind gust from an approaching severe thunderstorm hit the stage’s temporary roof structure which then collapsed. Seven people were killed. 58 others were injured. Dateline‘s Andrea Canning interviews the concert goers who “put themselves in harm’s way to try and save complete strangers in a life and death race against time.”

After the tragedy, the Indiana State Fair Commission hired the prestigious structural engineering consultancy firm Thornton Tomasetti to lead the technical investigation into why the stage collapsed. The New York City-based company also investigated the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis (August 2007). The report filed by Thornton Tomasetti stated “The failure … was due to the inadequate capacity of the lateral load resisting system, which was comprised of guy lines connected to concrete “Jersey barrier” ballast.” Thornton Tomasetti is also known for providing the structural design for several of the world’s tallest building structures, including the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Dateline airs Sundays at 7pm on NBC.

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