[r85] Pond Report: Helping those affected by State Fair tragedy (10/21/2011)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Start Date: 10/21/2011 All Day
End Date: 10/21/2011

One of the biggest responsibilities that I have taken on this summer is serving as a member on the State Fair Advisory Committee. This committee serves as a liaison between the Indiana State Fair Commission, the State Fair Board and the General Assembly.

Some of the duties the committee set out with included reviewing policies affecting the activities of the commission, the state fair, facilities at the fairgrounds and property owned by the commission. The State Fair Advisory Committee also provides guidance and recommendations concerning possible legislation for the commission as well as the State Fair Board.

This specific committee took on a whole new meaning following the tragic stage collapse that happened during a concert at the State Fair on August 13. It was on that day seven lives were lost and countless others were hospitalized with serious injuries.

As a member of the committee, I recently traveled to the state fair grounds and viewed what was left from the stage collapse. In a short matter of time, crews will begin to move the debris to a warehouse for further examination.

Victims of the State Fair collapse will be aided through the distribution of the 5 million dollar Tort Claim Fund. According to the Indiana Attorney General’s website, The Tort Claim Fund was created by statute to settle any claims and/or lawsuits against the State of Indiana. The statute caps the amount of award that can be distributed to any single individual and the amount of any award that is made for a specific incident.

Another way victims are being compensated is through the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund.  This charitable fund is completely separate from the Tort Claims and is distributed without legal action. The fund gives back to those who were most affected most by this tragedy through private charitable donations. Currently, the fund is totaling more than $947,000.

The fund was established directly after the incident and people from all over have donated to it. The kindness shown right here in the Hoosier state has been remarkable and the people living here truly are good hearted.

Nationally known victims compensation expert Ken Fienberg will be administering how the funds are distributed. He has worked with other funds such as the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund and the BP Oil Spill Fund.

As the fund administrator, Mr. Fienberg will help the State Fair Commission develop the framework for distribution of the charitable funds, including determining who is eligible for funds, a claims process and the amount of the charitable disbursement. He will meet with accident victims who request a meeting to discuss their claims.

Due to the limited funds available in the State Fair Remembrance Fund, protocol was established to provide charitable emergency relief to those who experienced the most catastrophic impact from the stage collapse on August 13.

Donating cannot compensate for human life or the painful injuries that many suffered. Yet, it is a small way to give back and help people who will be dealing with the financial burden of significant medical bills and other unpredicted related circumstances from the stage collapse.

If you choose to help, it will be greatly appreciated as many are still dealing with this tragic event and looking for ways to move forward.

To donate to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund visit http://www.cicf.org/