Tour Manager’s Caution Likely Saved Sugarland’s Lives
Whatever Sugarland is paying tour manager Hellen Rollens, it isn't enough.
Saturday night, as Rollens looked at the dark skies gathering over Indianapolis, scene of the Indiana State Fair, she opted to momentarily hold the country duo backstage. That decision likely saved the lives of group members Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, as well as their band and crew, since seconds later, heavy wind toppled the stage, killing five people and injuring almost 200 more.
"As a tour manager, it's super important to understand what the weather conditions are when you play outside," Gail Gellman, Sugarland's manager, told the Associated Press. "We've always talked about not putting the band on during wind, lightning or heavy rain.
"Everybody was standing in a prayer circle getting ready to go onstage," she continued, "and Hellen, as she was walking down the ramp, the stage fell. So her decision to hold them for literally a minute saved every band member and crew's life."
Hellen Rollens can be seen in the prayer circle segment of our exclusive 'Day in the Life of Sugarland' video below, which was filmed at their Incredible Machine tour stop in Augusta, Ga. earlier this summer. The prayer circle is a nightly ritual for the superstar duo and their entire crew, done less than five minutes before they take the stage.
Gellman was in Las Vegas at the time of the Indianapolis accident, but she's since visited with Nettles, who remains traumatized by Saturday's tragic events.
"There are moments I can see great clarity in her eyes, and there are moments I can see her tears well up so much that I just don't know what to do," Gellman said. "She's just processing and wants to encourage people to be together, to support each other."
Although the incident destroyed the stage set Sugarland had designed for its Incredible Machine tour, the duo is reportedly "hoping and preparing" to play Thursday night in Albuquerque, N.M.