WESTFIELD, Ind. (AP) — More than a dozen people were injured after a stage filled with students collapsed during a musical performance at a central Indiana high school, authorities said.
Capt. Charles Hollowell of the Westfield Police Department said authorities didn’t have an exact number of injuries but were certain more than 12 were hurt. At least one person was critically injured after the stage gave way Thursday night at Westfield High School, he said.
Hollowell did not have any further information about that person’s injuries. No fatalities were reported.
A large group of students was on the stage during the grand finale of the concert dubbed “American Pie” when the floor of the stage collapsed into the orchestra pit below, authorities and eyewitnesses said.
Video supplied to The Associated Press by Zach Rader — who was in the audience — and consistent with the AP’s reporting shows more than a dozen students dancing and clapping on stage while a female student sings along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Most students then suddenly plummet out of sight, the music cuts off and screams are heard.
Blake Rice, an 18-year-old senior at the school about 20 miles north of Indianapolis, said he was playing guitar in the performance, a tribute to `80s music.
As the last song began, Rice said he took a step back to allow more students onto the stage. He saw the stage collapse but did not fall through.
“At first, it didn’t seem real. It didn’t really register with me what happened,” Rice said.
Rice said people in the audience immediately ran toward the stage and began pulling debris off students. Auditorium staff pulled people out of the pit, he said.
“I realized how lucky I was,” Rice said. “Another 3 seconds and that could have been me.”
Injured students were taken to at least three different hospitals, according to Hollowell.
Chris Baldwin, who works in human resources for the high school, said regularly scheduled classes will meet Friday.
The incident evoked memories of a 2011 stage collapse at the Indiana Stage Fair that killed seven people and injured nearly 100. High winds toppled rigging and sent the stage roof onto fans awaiting the start of a concert by the country duo Sugarland.
Video of the accident was tweeted by Zach Rader.
Another video of the accident was tweeted by Sara Camden.
Riverview Health released this statement on the collapse:
Riverview Health activated Incident Command in response to a report of mass casualties at Westfield High School at 10:08 pm on Thursday, April 23. At this time, none of the victims have been transported via ambulance to Riverview Health. We have confirmed that two victims came into the Riverview Health Emergency Department on their own and are currently being evaluating for their injuries. We will provide an update as warranted.
Westfield officials said school would not be canceled Friday and faculty was expected to come in early to work through the process.
Our plan is for classes to be in session tomorrow but we would like the students to be here in school we can have communication with the students. I think it’s best to be here with our staff members have that communication and actually talk about what happened,” Chris Baldwin from the Westfield-Washington School district said.