Remembering the Five Victims of the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse
The five people killed in Saturday’s tragic Indiana State Fair accident leave behind children, spouses, parents and siblings. All five were doing something they truly loved before the incident. All five had a bright future to look forward to after the show.
Monday morning’s memorial honored their lives, as well as the 45 others injured when the stage toppled over shortly before Sugarland were to begin their concert on Saturday night. Fair officials and police are still investigating the exact cause of the accident, and whether anything could have been done to prevent it. This a glimpse into each of the five lives lost by the tragedy.
Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind.
Bigjohny had recently finished her degree at Manchester College and was preparing to begin teaching English to middle school students in Muncie, Ind. Indystar.com reports that she was celebrating a birthday at the Sugarland concert. Her father Robert was also in town, planning to celebrate with his daughter before returning to his native Armenia. Dennis Craft mentored Bigjohny in a student teacher program and raved about her potential to WRTV in Indianapolis. “All the kids really liked her, cared about her. It’s just one of those very sad days for a lot of people,” he said. “She was a friendly, caring person, everything you want a teacher to be.” Sugarland was one of Bigjohny’s favorite bands.
Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago
Advocate.com reports that Santiago worked at the Lesbian Community Care Project at Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago and was recently named to the Windy City Times’ “30 Under 30″ list. Last year she received the highest award for a staff member. “Her passion and leadership for caring for others will be deeply missed by the Howard Brown family and the LGBTQ community,” Jamal M. Edwards, president and CEO of the Howard Brown Health Center, said in a statement. “Her star is irreplaceable both at HBHC and in the community.” Santiago was at the concert with her partner Alisha Marie Brennon of Chicago. Brennon is still hospitalized after the incident.
Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Ind. [Picture Unavailable]
Saturday night’s Sugarland concert was a chance for single mother Tammy Vandam to celebrate her birthday. Her brother Earl Pittman Jr. describes Vandam as outgoing and supportive. “She was a very loving and caring person, and she’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it,” he tells IndyStar.com. Vandam was a mother to one daughter and had recently completed online classes to get a medical coding job.
Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis, Ind.
Goodrich was working security the night of the tragedy. “They told me that he saved a lady and a child,” his mother tells IndyStar.com. “He pushed them out of the way, and there may have been a third person.” The husband and father of two boys working security for extra income. He was a natural protector, and truly enjoyed his 20 years in the field, including many Indiana Pacer basketball games. The Indianapolis Star profiled Goodwin in 1999, making note of his exceptional memory and jovial nature on the court. Glenn’s death was proceeded by his older brother Grant’s passing from a heart attack in 2009.
Nathan Byrd, 51, of Indianapolis, Ind.
Byrd wasn’t excited to see Sugarland. IndyStar.com reports he preferred rock, blues and jazz to country music, but he took the light rigging job anyway. Family describe him as a kindhearted, soulful artist who brought people together. Byrd enjoyed the risks of rigging lights at concerts throughout Indianapolis. “He was always telling me how dangerous it was,” older brother Randy Byrd tells IndyStar.com. “There have been storms blow in and things weren’t safe, but they kept calling Nate to do those daredevil things because he had the ability to do that.” Bryd leaves behind two teenaged daughters.