Indiana State Fair Collapse Incident in Indianapolis. Right graphic courtesy Indiana State Police, Thornton Tomasetti.

Indiana State Fair Commission, August 13, 2011, Collapse Incident Investigation and Report



Thornton Tomasetti performed a multifaceted, highly detailed cause and origin investigation in response to the collapse of a temporary ground-supported structure used to cover the Grandstand Stage at the Indiana State Fair. The incident resulted in seven deaths and a multitude of injuries.

To preserve the scene for forensic and criminal investigations, Thornton Tomasetti established various protocols for maintaining control over the incident site and coordinated the efforts of all investigating firms and agencies. The complex investigation included the documentation, measurement and cataloging of thousands of components from the aluminum truss roof system and related suspended entertainment technology equipment. Detailed site measurements, laser scanning, wind tunnel analysis and materials testing and analysis were conducted.

Applying the data that was collected during the investigation, Thornton Tomasetti performed different types of finite element method analyses. An incremental failure analysis determined the collapse mechanism and sequence. A second analysis applied the full wind load case to determine if the structure would have maintained stability if the initially identified failure mechanisms had been robust enough. The as-built nonlinear finite element model also was used to validate the results of the wind tunnel and metallurgical analyses and to evaluate comparisons to the expected code-prescribed performance.

Thornton Tomasetti compiled the results of the investigation and recommendations for improved standards and procedures relating to the design of temporary structures into a report. Many of the recommendations have been implemented by agencies within the state of Indiana and other jurisdictions.

Click here (or right click and save to your desktop) to download a PDF of the Thornton Tomasetti engineering report (525 MB).

Click here for the Thornton Tomasetti presentation delivered at the April 12, 2012 news conference. (8 MB).

Click here for the official release from the State of Indiana.

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