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Indiana State Fair stage collapse survivors return to thank trauma team

'I truly feel this is the very least we can do'
Indiana State Fair stage collapse survivors return to Indy to thank care team
Posted at 12:57 AM, Aug 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-14 00:57:33-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Forever grateful. Those two words hold a deeper meaning for one woman and her daughter who survived the Indiana State Fair stage collapse in 2011.

Jaymie and Jill Polet returned to IU Health Methodist Hospital Friday on the tenth anniversary of the stage collapse tragedy.

Jill, who now lives just outside of Buffalo in Western New York, drove to Indianapolis and met her daughter Jaymie, who drove down from Chicago. The two joined the Methodist trauma team to thank them with hugs and cookies for everything they did ten years ago.

PHOTO: WRTV

In 2011, the family lived in Cincinnati. They came to the Indiana State Fair to see Sugarland that August with family friend, Meagan Toothman, and Jaymie’s younger sister.

Both Jill and Jaymie suffered serious injuries from the stage rigging. Jill was rushed to Methodist with a crushed pelvis and facial fractures. Jayme went to another area hospital with broken legs and a skull fracture. Jill’s younger daughter had minor injuries.

“We, I am and I know Jamie is, we are ever grateful to the to the care that we received. I mean, amazing,” Jill said.

PHOTO: WRTV Reporter Nikki DeMentri

Jaymie’s cheer coach and the family’s dear friend, Meagan Toothman, died from her injuries caused by the stage collapse.

Every year, the family has sent cookies to the trauma teams as a simple ‘thank you’ on the anniversary.

PHOTO: WRTV Reporter Nikki DeMentri

“We have done incredibly well. We have no restrictions whatsoever on our health,” Jill said. “I just feel it is so important to come there and to pay it forward…the names and faces have changed, but they're still doing the same thing. Any time another mass casualty, God forbid, could happen and they're still doing the same thing. And they don't expect anything.”

“I think it's important to remember that these are people that truly cared and truly were there for us. Yes, I you know, they saved my life, my mom's life and we went through something horrible, we lost someone, and it was horrible. These people have been there for us,” Jaymie added.

The pandemic forced the mother and daughter to send the cookies, rather than hand deliver it, but both said this year was too important not to make the trip to Indianapolis.

“There were so many patients and trying to figure out how to prioritize and to ensure we didn't have missed injuries,” IU Health’s Chief Nursing Officer and former Trauma Director, Missy Hockaday said. “This family here has been in my heart for ten years now. They come back every year, besides the last couple due to COVID. And just remembering their story is just so special to me and seeing how accomplished they are.”

Although Jill said she may not travel back to Indiana to personally deliver the cookies, she said there is no question she will continue to ship these treats to the team for years and years to come.

“This means everything to our different providers that cared for them while they were here,” IU Health Director of Trauma at Methodist Jill Castor said. “My Facebook feed is full of EMS providers, nurses, ICU physicians who were here that night, who remember it, who still talk about it to this day. The 10-year anniversary means a lot to them. And so, getting to see these two coming back, looking great living their lives, and feeling like we had a little piece in helping with that and all the care teams, it just means the world to us. It helps connect us to what we do, and why we're here.”