Sugarland Tour Manager Investigated Over Stage Collapse Lawsuits

Report: She urged the band to go on

April 17, 2012 11:20 AM ET
Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush of Sugarland perform in Oslo, Norway.
Sandy Young/WireImage for IMG

Sugarland tour manager Hellen Rollens is being investigated for her role in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse that tragically killed seven people, and injured dozens, last August, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Though it was Rollens who kept the country duo out of danger by calling a backstage prayer circle just moments before the accident, investigative reports released last week said that Rollens told State Fair representatives, "It's only rain. We can play," after concerns were expressed about the severe weather.

The report also states that Rollens and Eric Milby (a representative for a concert promotion company) talked about possibly delaying the show, but it was Rollens who said the group was willing to play in the rain. Sugarland spokesperson Allan Mayer, however, says that the group was never asked to delay the show.

Though these investigations also placed some of the blame on the Indiana State Fair for unclear safety protocols and a poor stage design, the new reports will also play a crucial factor in the suit brought against Sugarland last November by 44 survivors and the families of four people who died in the accident, as they will help determine who was responsible for the decision not to delay the show. Rollens has not yet been deposed, according to attorney Kenneth J. Allen.

Allen also said, "I think the plot will thicken on the part of Hellen Rollens, but I think at the end of the day, she's an employee. The band had the ultimate authority to say we're not performing, and Kristian Bush admitted as much."

Back in March, Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles was asked to testify; her video testimony was released last week as well, and when asked about whether she felt responsible for the safety of concertgoers because of the dangerous equipment on stage, she said, "I don't feel it's my responsibility or my management's responsibility to evacuate the fans in case of danger. Do I care about their safety? Absolutely."

Still, Mayer maintains that the decision to delay a show is left up to the venue and that the band is not responsible. In December, the state of Indiana settled their own lawsuit with 63 of the 65 victims of the accident, who claimed the state was liable for the deaths and injuries. The victims were awarded $5 million in compensation.

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