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One Dead, Dozens Hospitalized During Rave At Fair Park

By Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.COM
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Updated 6/20, 5:15 p.m.

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A police report suspects a drug overdose is responsible for a 19-year-old Argyle man’s death at an electronic music festival Saturday at Fair Park.

Officials said 30 others were taken to area hospitals throughout the 10-hour Electric Daisy Carnival, which city officials repeatedly described as “basically a rave.”

On Monday, a spokesman announced the city of Dallas issued seven citations to the event’s promoter – Los Angeles-based Insomniac Incorporated – for overcrowding, failure to obtain a count of occupants and obstruction of justice.

In a statement, Insomniac spokeswoman Erika Raney called the citations “unwarranted” and said the company “will challenge the validity of each in court.”

Alcohol, drug and heat-related emergency calls began around 8 p.m., the city said, and medical officials were called to perform CPR on Argyle resident Andrew James Graf, 19, at about 8:30 p.m. He was taken to Baylor Hospital where he died.

The cause of death remains under investigation pending a toxicology test, but a police report suspects a drug overdose is to blame.

Another person, whose age and gender has not been announced, remains in critical condition at Dallas Methodist following the event, city spokesman Jason Evans said Sunday.

An additional 30 concertgoers were also treated at area hospitals, although Evans had no specific information on how many of those were drug and alcohol related. By 10:30 p.m., 12 to 15 individuals had been taken to the hospital in addition to Graf’s death, city spokesman Frank Librio said.

An estimated 21,000 to 24,000 concertgoers attended Saturday’s Electric Daisy Carnival, which catapulted into the public eye after Los Angeles banned it following the drug-related death of a teenaged girl in 2010. Medical and police staff planned for an attendance of 22,000, Librio said.

The event took place in the 94,500 square foot Centennial Building, the 84,500 square foot Automobile building and on an outdoor stage. The festival also had carnival rides and light shows to accompany the music. All concertgoers had to provide identification at the door and submit to a search.

Total capacity, Librio said, was 42,927. However, about 76 percent of that comes from the outdoor capacity, which has room for 32,673 individuals. The Centennial Building has a capacity of 4,791 and the Automobile Building has a capacity of 5,463.

“I couldn’t tell you exactly how many people were in the Centennial and Automobile buildings, but it was determined by fire inspectors that it was more than the listed limits,” Librio said in an email.

Evans said at least 10 rescue units were sent to the location at one point during the evening to respond to heat, drug and alcohol-related emergencies. The night ended with 47 off-duty police officers onsite, about 10 more than the beginning of the festival, Librio said.

The promoter said it hired an additional 200 security personnel to staff the event.

In all, police arrested one person for public intoxication and another for possession of ecstasy.

The festival, which began at 4 p.m., was shut down 30 minutes before its scheduled conclusion at about 1:30 a.m. after someone triggered a fire alarm.

“The chaos finally came to a rapid stop when someone pulled a fire alarm … and sent those remaining scattering,” Evans said.

YouTube videos show headliner Skrillex announcing to the crowd, “The fire marshal’s here, I’m going to get arrested if I keep playing,” before asking concertgoers to exit the venue calmly. (Ed. note: The linked video contains adult language.) 

Librio said police and fire officials considered closing the festival after the transports and Graf’s death, but feared it would cause “civil unrest.” At midnight, Librio said authorities started a “soft close,” ending each area of the festival slightly earlier than publicized.

The Centennial Building closed by 12:30 a.m. and the Automobile Building was closed and emptied by 1:30 a.m. without incident. By this time, Librio said a third of the crowd safely left Fair Park. The outside area was closed by 2 a.m.

On Monday, Librio said the city issued Insomniac Incorporated seven citations: Two for overcrowding, two more for failure to obtain a count of occupants and three for obstruction of justice.

“The obstruction of justice came as a result of refusing to comply with turning on the lights and turning down the music for better crowd control,” Librio said in an email.

This was the second year Fair Park has hosted the festival. The final attendance counts from last year maxed at around 11,000, with only one arrest for possession of narcotics and one person taken to the hospital for a possible drug overdose, Librio said.

At about 8:15 a.m. Sunday, the Dallas Observer reported that the Electric Daisy promoter issued a statement offering condolences to the Graf family and vowed to work with authorities to investigate what led to the man’s death.

“To go from a moment of happiness and enjoyment, to the loss of life, is very heartbreaking,” wrote Insomniac Incorporated CEO and founder Pasquale Rotella in the statement. “Along with the independent local promoters in Dallas, we will work with the authorities to understand how this tragedy occurred.”

The Electric Daisy Carnival also has events in Orlando, Denver, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico throughout the hot summer months. Las Vegas jumped at the chance to host the festival after the two-day event was banned in Los Angeles, The New York Times reported.

The event’s website says it has a zero-tolerance policy for drug use and is only open to those who are at least 18-years-old.

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