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Seventh Person Dies after Indiana Fair Stage Collapse

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Ohio cheerleading coach died Monday from head injuries she sustained during a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair, and it wasn't clear if she had undergone the organ donation surgery family members had planned while she was in a coma.

Meagan Toothman, 24, was confirmed as the seventh person to die from the Aug. 13 stage collapse, according to a statement from the Marion County coroner's office released Monday night by the Indiana State Police.

She had been scheduled to undergo the organ donation surgery Monday afternoon, but the statement didn't say if that had happened. Calls by The Associated Press to the coroner's office and police were not immediately returned.

Toothman's family said earlier in a Web journal that organ donation surgery "will provide gifts of sight, health, and life to dozens who are in need." Doctors put Toothman into a coma Aug.15 to try to ease the bruising and swelling on her brain.

"Late last night it became apparent that our Meagan was no longer with us," the family wrote Monday. "The decision was made to allow to her to be at peace."

Authorities erroneously reported that she had died late Sunday, but Marion County coroner's office spokeswoman Marchele Hall said Toothman remained in a coma at the time. Toothman was the head cheerleading coach at Turpin High School in Cincinnati.

"The outpouring of love and hope ... was an inspiration to all of us to keep her fighting," her family said. "We hope that she will continue to touch more lives in the same way through her passing."

Strong winds toppled a stage onto a crowd of fans as they waited for country band Sugarland to perform. Three fans and a security guard died at the scene, while a fourth fan and a stagehand later died of their injuries. Some four dozen people were hurt, many seriously.

It was not known Monday how many of those injured in the stage collapse remained hospitalized. State police stopped providing updates on the injured last week and hospitals have not provided reports on the condition of those injured.

Roeland Polet, whose wife and two daughters had attended the concert with Toothman, told The Associated Press that Toothman's death would be yet another tragedy for their family.

His wife, Jill Polet, and their older daughter, Jaymie Polet, were both injured in the collapse and remain hospitalized but their younger daughter, Jordan, escaped injury.

"It's horrible. It is devastating for my family. For my daughter, she was like a big sister. They were extremely close," Polet said of his daughter Jaymie and Toothman.

He said both Jill and Jaymie, who are in separate hospitals in Indianapolis, are "in very rough shape." He said it's unclear when they will be released and both suffered multiple fractures.

Jaymie had been a cheerleader at Turpin High School and had planned to try out for cheerleader at Indiana University, where she's enrolled for this fall. Polet said IU officials came to the hospital Sunday with T-shirts and banners for her.

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Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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Online: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/meagantoothman1/journal



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