Stage collapses at Indiana high school

Westfield High School collapse

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — A stage has collapsed at Westfield Washington High School, leaving numerous people injured.

According to the Westfield High School website, students were performing the musical “American Pie” at the school auditorium Thursday night. During the performance, dozens of students were dancing on the stage when the orchestra pit collapsed under them.

PHOTOS: See images before and after collapse

Anna Skinner, a former student and reporter for the Current in Westfield was at the performance. She said, “It wasn’t very clear from my standpoint from the back of what happened but then once people put it together that kids were hurt and something drastic happened, it became chaotic. Of course everybody started to help. A sold out show is about 1,000 people and so it was completely sold out and so there were about a-thousand people trying to assist.”

Skinner said a call went out for anyone with medical training to assist immediately after the accident.

Cameron Snyder is a senior at Westfield. He said, “I was up really high up in the stands and then all of the sudden they were all just having a great time and then boom just the stage went out and everyone went down and it was just crazy it was chaotic and everything.”

Captain Charles Hollowell from Westfield PD said investigators are looking at the structure of the stage for the cause of the collapse.

He also said all of the injured have been transported or taken to the hospital. Hollowell said “under two dozen” were injured in the accident.

A video of the accident was tweeted by Sara Camden.

Alyssa Schrenker spoke to 24-Hour News 8 outside of Westfield High School. She said, “People just burst into tears. I went on stage and a mother there was in so much shock she was just grabbing my arm.”

ISP has confirmed at least five critical injuries and that parents will need to check and see if their child is at one of these hospitals.

Jen Dial from St. Vincent said 3 patients were at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. They are minors and will not have conditions released to the public. Ten patients are at St. Vincent hospital in Carmel. Five of those patients are minors and will not have information released. The hospital said the other five are in stable condition.

Whitney Ertel from IU Health said one student was at IU North in Carmel in stable condition.

ISP said other patients have arrived at Riverview Hospital in Noblesville and St. Vincent in Indianapolis.

Riverview Health released a 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 will not be canceled Friday. Chris Baldwin from the Westfield-Washington School district said, “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.”

Baldwin also said guidance counselors would be on hand at the school.

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.”

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook wanted to let students know that their city is behind them. He also spoke to the next step.

“Before we left the site, the Indiana Fire Marshal was on the scene,” said Cook.

Cook also stated that school would be open on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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