Stage collapse survivor: ‘money doesn’t bring me back’

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Country duo Sugarland, Live Nation and 16 other defendants have agreed to pay $39 million to settle claims from the state fair stage collapse in 2011 that killed seven people and injured nearly 100 more.

That money is in addition to the $11 million dollar settlement with the state.

Over the years, we’ve followed one of the victims through what emergency responders called a miraculous recovery.

Andrea Vellinga is now 33 years old. She says nowadays, every moment matters.

“I’m very thankful for all the small moments I have. They’re big moments to me,” Vellinga said.

The right side of her skull was crushed when the stage collapsed, and she was in a coma for weeks.

Doctors had to remove portions of her brain to reduce pressure when it was swelling. She went through multiple surgeries to replace the missing portion of her skull.

Vellinga says it’s been a long road to recovery.

“It’s like an emotional rollercoaster, really,” she said. “It’s just become real to me, more now than ever.”

She’s still making progress. She says she’s working, driving and determined to continue the progress.

Vellinga says the support she feels now from people across the country is what drives her and keeps her so determined.

“It helps me want to keep working hard and not give up. Like working on this arm. I’m determined to get it back to being normal again,” she said.

She says money, to her, doesn’t matter.

“It doesn’t bring me back. I just want me back,” she said. “Money can’t buy me back. I just want to be myself again.”

She says if she receives money once her case is settled, she plans to use it for those who aren’t here.

“Whatever money comes out of this, I plan to do things in honor and memory of the seven who died, because they are not here to do things for people like I am,” she said.

As life moves forward, Vellinga says she plans to remember and celebrate the little things, especially with her daughter.

“I get to see her grow up,” she said. “I’m very thankful.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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