Teacher, Rigger, Advocate Among The Victims

The five people killed in Saturday’s stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair included a new teacher to a veteran stagehand. Some came to enjoy the music for friends. For others, Saturday’s Sugarland concert was just another job.

Here are their stories:

Nathan Byrd, Indianapolis

A month shy of his 52nd birthday, Nathan Byrd was a veteran stagehand known as a daredevil.

Older brother Randy Byrd, 54, of Indianapolis, said friends and colleagues knew he would fearlessly scale stage rigs and dubbed him “Save-the-Show Nate” because he was always willing to take on risky jobs.

“He would push people out of harm’s way and take on the more difficult jobs and do the jobs that were higher risks,” Randy Byrd told The Associated Press.
Nathan Byrd had been working as a stagehand for about 20 years and was one of the few experienced stagehands light enough – at roughly 140 pounds – to scale scaffolding and work lighting rigs, his brother said.

The Indianapolis man worked at sites around the city, including Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus. Joshua Lingenfelter, director of marketing for the facility, said Byrd served as spotlight operator for events including concerts and the Butler Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker.”

Randy Byrd told The Indianapolis Star his brother wasn’t a country music fan and wasn’t looking forward to working the Sugarland show. But he took the job anyway.

He was about 20 feet above the stage running the spotlight when the stage rigging collapsed.

Christina Santiago, Chicago
Santiago, 29, managed programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project at Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago.
President and CEO Jamal M. Edwards said she was one of the organization’s “brightest stars” and worked to improve the lives of women, especially those who were lesbian, bisexual and transgender. During her six years with the organization, she helped expand the women’s health services division and became “a powerful advocate for all LGBT women,” Edwards said in a statement Sunday.

Santiago attended the concert with her partner, Alisha Brennon, who was severely injured, Edwards said.

He said Santiago had received numerous accolades for her work and was named to the Windy City Times’ “30 Under 30” list in 2007.

“Her passion and leadership for caring for others will be deeply missed,” he said.


Alina BigJohny, Fort Wayne, Ind.

BigJohny, the daughter of an Armenian immigrant, had just turned 23, and her family was planning a belated birthday celebration for her Sunday. It instead turned into a prayer vigil.

The 2011 Manchester College graduate was recently hired to teach seventh-grade English in Muncie, the Journal-Gazette reported.

“There was always a smile on that girl’s face,” Arturo Pena told the Journal-Gazette ( http://bit.ly/nDNStm). “She was never angry or anything. Something bad happened, she shook it off. That’s the kind of person she was.”

Danielle Stoy said she and BigJohny met their first day at Manchester and became best friends.

“She was funny, spontaneous. She was just amazing,” Stoy said. “She always had a smile and she’d do anything for anybody. She loved her family like there was no tomorrow and they were her top priority.”

Stoy said BigJohny attended the concert with another friend, Jennifer Haskell, who was critically injured in the collapse.

She said Sugarland was one of their favorite bands.

“They knew every song,” she said.

Glenn Goodrich, Indianapolis
Goodrich, 49, was a familiar face in Indianapolis security circles.

The married father of two boys ages 5 and 9 worked a day job for Ike-lite Corp., an underwater camera and lighting equipment. But his mother, Mariilyn Goodrich, told The Indianapolis Star ( http://bit.ly/n87deQ) he worked events from concerts to Indiana Pacers games to supplement his family’s income.

“He loved being in that profession,” said his sister, Gloria Barnes, Riverside, Calif. “He had a calling for that where he really liked helping be sure that people were safe.”

Goodrich’s mother said her son’s employer told her that video of Goodrich showed him helping others when the stage came crashing down on fans waiting for Sugarland to perform.

“They told me that he saved a lady and a child,” she said. “He pushed them out of the way, and there may have been a third person. They have it on video.”

“That’s typical of Glenn,” Marilyn Goodrich added. “That’s what he would have done: tried to help somebody else.”


Tammy Vandam, Wanatah, Ind.

Vandam, 42, got tickets to see one of her favorite bands as a birthday present, her brother Earl Pittman Jr., told The Indianapolis Star.

Vandam, a homemaker and mother to one daughter, grew up in Valparaiso and once owned a disc jockey business there. She’d recently completed online classes to get a job as a medical coder, Pittman said.

He said his sister often posted supportive comments when she saw online obituaries and always looked for ways to comfort those who were hurting.

“She was a very loving and caring person, and she’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it,” Pittman said.