Editor's note: The video of the stage collapse in Indiana comes with a warning that some of the content may be disturbing to some people, including children.
INDIANAPOLIS – A prominent lesbian from Chicago was one of five people who were killed Saturday night when a powerful wind gust toppled a concert stage at the Indiana State Fair.
Christina Santiago, 29, died in the horrific accident witnessed by thousands of fans who had gathered for a concert by country music stars Sugarland. Also killed were Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Nathan Byrd, 51, and Glen Goodrich, 49, both of Indianapolis; and Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Ind.
Santiago was programming manager for the Lesbian Community Care Project at the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. She was attending the concert with her partner, Alisha Marie Brennon, who was critically injured in the accident and remained hospitalized on Monday.
Veronica Hernandez, who was a friend of the couple, told the Chicago Tribune that Santiago and Brennon were among the first people to get a civil union in Chicago after the Illinois legislature approved civil unions earlier this year.
Jamal Edwards, president and CEO of Howard Brown, told the Tribunethat Santiago and Brennon had been together for two years and were inseparable.
Santiago “was a fierce advocate. She was as brilliant as she was beautiful. She was the greatest advocate for equal health care for all. That love doesn't die, it lives on,” Edwards told theTribune.
Edwards also released this statement to the media:
"The sudden and devastating loss of Christina has left the entire community, including her Howard Brown Health Center family, heartbroken.
“Christina was an amazing woman – one of our very brightest stars – who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of women, particularly lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer women. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Christina's friends and family, and her beautiful partner Alisha Brennon, who is also a dear friend of HBHC and was severely injured, but not killed, in the accident.
“Santiago was our manager of the Lesbian Community Care Project (LCCP) at Howard Brown Health Center, and worked at the health center for nearly six years. She has been a leading and driving force in the expansion of our women's health services division and a powerful advocate for all LGBT women.
Santiago also was the board programming chair at Amigas Latinas, an LGBT advocacy group for Latinas in Chicago.
As friends mourned the death of Santiago, they also turned their attention to lending support to Brennon, whose family lives in Iowa.
On Monday, the health center was providing grief counseling services to the staff and making plans for establishing a memorial fund in Santiago’s memory.
To contact the Howard Brown Health Center, click HERE.
To contact Amigas Latinas, click HERE.