Armenian Woman Dies in Indiana State Stage Collapse


INDIANAPOLIS (Indiana Star) — An Armenian-American woman was among those who died when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, right before the band Sugarland was to perform.

Alina BigJohny, of Muncie, was the daughter of an Armenian immigrant. She had just turned 23, and her family was planning a belated birthday celebration for her Sunday. But instead the party turned into a prayer vigil, the Associated Press reported.

BigJohny died Saturday when stage rigging collapsed at the Indiana State Fair.

“She was excited about this concert,” said her brother-in-law, Terry Collins. “She had the tickets for a while, and she’s been talking about it all summer.”

It was a busy time. After graduating in May with high honors from Manchester College, she had landed a job teaching middle school English in Muncie.

And her father, Robert BigJohny, was visiting from Arkansas. BigJohny’s parents had divorced, and her father, an Armenian immigrant, had planned to return to that country later this month and wanted to say goodbye.

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BigJohny was born August 4, 1988 in Fort Wayne. She was a 2007 graduate of Wayne High School and was the salutatorian of her class. She was also the captain of gymnastics team, editor-in-chief of the school paper and senior class president at Wayne High School. She graduated in May 2011 with honors from Manchester College. She was planning on teaching seventh grade this fall at Wilson Middle School, Muncie.

She is survived by her father, Robert (spouse Gohar Hakobyan) BigJohny, of Sherwood, Ark.; mother, Polly A. BigJohny, of Fort Wayne; sister, Christy (spouse Terry Collins) BigJohny, of Fort Wayne; brother, Antonio Guerrero, of Fort Wayne; grandfather, Stepan BigJohny, of Armenia; great- grandmother, Margaret Baghoomian, of Glendale, Calif.; nephew, TJ Collins of Fort Wayne; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

Funeral Services were held on Friday, August 19. In lieu of flowers, memorials to TJ Collins Education Fund c/o Christy BigJohny.

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