Wanatah woman killed in state fair concert stage collapse
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent August 14, 2011 5:26PM
Updated: August 14, 2011 11:02PM
WANATAH — A local woman was among five people killed Saturday when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair.
Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah. was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after a violent wind gust knocked over the rigging for the stage and sent the structure toppling into the audience. Dozens more remained hospitalized Sunday from their injuries.
A tearful Sue Grochowski of Portage, Vandam’s sister, when reached by phone Sunday said right now the family is not prepared to comment on the tragedy.
“We don’t know anything,” Grochowski said.
Vandam, a 1987 graduate of Valparaiso High School, was among the thousands on hand to see country music duo Sugarland. The stage fell into what is called the Sugarpit, the portion of the audience closest to the stage.
Tim and Missy Grieger of Wanatah and Tim’s parents Elwood and Drelah Grieger, were at the concert celebrating the younger couple’s 12th wedding anniversary. The group was sitting in row K, just four rows back from the Sugarpit, a standing room only area for rows A through G.
“It was just very, very, very scary,” Tim Grieger said. He described the scene as surreal. Grieger said he prompted his wife and parents to take shelter just minutes before the tragedy occurred. He said as they made their way to an area underneath the grandstand, the crowd erupted in screams.
“If we wouldn’t have left our seats when we did, we wouldn’t be here today,” Grieger said.