Four years after Indiana State Fair stage collapse, one victim i - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Four years after Indiana State Fair stage collapse, one victim is learning to live without memory

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Cheryl Markey looks through photo albums, explaining how hard it is to not know members of her own family. Cheryl Markey looks through photo albums, explaining how hard it is to not know members of her own family.

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Lights crash down, a stage collapses, then a crush of chaos at the Indiana State Fair.

When it's all over seven people are dead and nearly 100 are injured.

Just a few weeks ago, lawyers for victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse announced they'd reached a multimillion dollar settlement with country duo Sugarland, Live Nation Worldwide and 16 other defendants.

It will go to families whose loved ones died and those who were injured when high winds toppled the stage onto fans waiting for the country music concert on August 13, 2011.

We spoke with one survivor whose bizarre injuries are much worse today than they were when the disaster hit four years ago.

"I'm not going to lie to you, I'm usually not [motivated]," Cheryl Markey admitted.

Although she will likely get part of that settlement money, Shepherdsville resident Cheryl Markey says she can't put a dollar amount on her suffering.

"Money doesn't give us anything back we've lost," Markey said. "I'd rather have my life back."

It's a life she can't remember because of a very rare and unusual injury.

We interviewed Cheryl shortly after the accident and the very next day, she lost her memory completely.

Doctors tell her she suffered a concussion as she was running from the falling stage, but the complete memory loss is harder to explain.

"I think it is considered what they would call Global Retrograde Amnesia meaning that she's lost the entirety of her memory prior to the event," Cheryl's therapist Melissa Novak explained.

Novak says studies show an increase in the chance of a person losing their entire memory if a head injury is coupled with a traumatic event, like in Cheryl's case.

"Part of the reason is that not having a memory of the event makes it more difficult for your brain to process the emotions and everything that happened," said Novak.

Markey doesn't remember anything about her life before August 2011. She said she doesn't even remember our first interview.

"It's weird not to know your own mom," she said. "I've got two brothers I don't know."

Now she carefully documents new memories. She and friends mark the anniversary of the stage collapse in Indianapolis every year.

"A lot of me knows it was a freak thing that came out of nowhere," Markey said when asked if she blames anyone for her condition. "But do I believe they could have protected us a little better? Yes."

It's been four years of doctors' visits, therapy and medicine with huge setbacks.

"The more that she works at it the more likely her chances are that she'll regain something, but there is a possibility she may not regain any of that memory," Novak said.

Settlement money will help pay some of the bills, but Markey says it comes at too great a cost.

"It doesn't matter. It's not going to give me almost four years of my life back."

Lawyers are now going through the tedious process of splitting up that 50 million dollar settlement.

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