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Sugarland was about to hit the stage at the Indiana State Fair when tour manager Hellen Rollens looked at the sky and held back the duo, the Associated Press reports. Only 60 seconds later, the stage collapsed, instantly killing four. A fifth person died later at an Indianapolis hospital. The band and crew heard the crashing stage and hit the ground, taking cover against a wall, the AP reports. They survived unscathed.
“Everybody was standing in a prayer circle getting ready to go onstage, and Hellen, as she was walking down the ramp, the stage fell. So her decision to hold them for literally a minute saved every band member and crew's life,” Sugarland manager Gail Gellman told the AP.
“There was no running out anywhere,” Gellman said. “No one knew what happened. It was just the moment when your eyes get big.”
Gellman says Sugarland's lead singer, Jennifer Nettles, is struggling with the tragedy.
“There are moments I can see great clarity in her eyes, and there are moments I can see her tears well up so much that I just don’t know what to do,” Gellman said. “She’s just processing and wants to encourage people to be together, to support each other.”
Kristian Bush went to be with his kids in Georgia, Gellman said. He issued the following statement yesterday (Aug. 15):
“Our fans just came to see a show, and it ended in something terrible. My heart is totally broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives. It’s broken for all the people who got hurt, for the people who were scared.
“I thank God for every person who lifted a truss, who pushed against that metal to get it off someone; for every person who used a chair as a stretcher. I thank God for every fan and emergency responder, for everyone who ran to the trouble instead of away from it. The courage of those men and women will forever be with me.”