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Ohio cheerleading coach dies in Ind. stage tragedy

The Associated Press, Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 5:08am (PDT)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A cheerleading coach from Ohio has died from head injuries she suffered when a powerful storm toppled a stage at the Indiana State Fair, making her the seventh person to die in the tragedy, the coroner's office said.

Meagan Toothman, 24, had been scheduled to undergo organ donation surgery Monday afternoon. A statement from the Marion County coroner's office confirming Toothman's death Monday night did not mention if that surgery had taken place. The Associated Press left messages with the coroner's office and police.

Toothman's family had said in a Web journal entry that organ donation surgery would "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."

Toothman had been 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."

Roeland Polet said his wife, Jill Polet, and their older daughter, Jaymie, had attended the concert with Toothman, and that both suffered multiple fractures when the stage collapsed. Jaymie was a cheerleader at Turpin High School and had planned to try out for cheerleader at Indiana University, where she is enrolled to start this fall.

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

Polet said IU officials came to the hospital Sunday with T-shirts and banners for Jaymie.

Strong winds toppled a stage onto a crowd of fans Aug. 13 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.

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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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