Lawsuits filed on behalf of two victims of Indiana State Fair Tragedy

Valparaiso, IN. - Just days after a devastating stage collapse, an injured woman  is speaking out about her injuries, the loss of her partner, and a lawsuit filed.

It was almost a week ago, that a stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed killing four people immediately and injuring dozens.

It was just Saturday that the sixth person died as a result of the collapse. 22-year-old Jennifer Haskell, a senior at Ball State University died Saturday morning.

Her death came on the same day a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of Tammy VanDam. She is the Wanatah woman who was killed right when in the accident happened.

Tammy's life partner, Beth Urschel, was also a victim in the tragic accident and filed a lawsuit along with the VanDam family today.

Today was the first time Beth Urschel talked publicly about that tragic night. She was understandably very emotional, and tearful as she relived that painful night almost one week ago.

"It was her birthday weekend. I was taking her down to see her favorite band," says Urschel. 

Beth Urschel says she had a special weekend planned for her life partner of around 10 years, Tammy VanDam, but little did they know everything was about to change.


 "All of a sudden I heard screaming, and then we felt the wind. I looked up and here's the stage starting to fall. Where to you run? Where do you go? You just pray you survive."


Urschel did survive, but she was severely injured, losing one toe and crushing another. She no longer has feeling in that foot and depends on a wheel chair at the moment. Tragically Beth's' life partner Tammy did not make it. She died immediately, leaving behind a 17-year-old daughter.


The families' attorney Kenneth Allen says the obvious pain Beth and Tammy's family are going through is exactly why the lawsuits were filed today.


"The Harm done in this case is horrific, to this family and to four others who died and to the scores of others that were injured," says Allen.


Allen says the damages caused to the family exceeds $50 million, but Allen will have some hurdles to jump through in order to get that amount.


First, the State of Indiana, a defendant named in VanDam's lawsuit, has a law that caps responsibility settlements at $5 million.


Allen says he will also have to challenge Indiana State law regarding the rights of same sex partners, in hopes that VanDam and Urschel's marriage will be recognized by the courts.


In the meantime Urschel is dealing with her physical pain, "I feel like throwing up I hurt so bad. That's how bad I feel," all the while knowing the emotional pain may take even longer to heal. 


There will be a hearing Tuesday. A LaPorte County judge will be making a decision whether to grant Allen's request to have a temporary restraining order be placed on the site in order to protect and preserve all evidence from that tragic accident.

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