Argyle teen dies at Fair Park music festival

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on June 19, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 20 at 12:38 PM

DALLAS — Dallas police are investigating problems at a Fair Park music festival Saturday night that ended with the death of a young man.

It happened at an event called the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Centennial Building. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans called it a "rave"  for young people.

The fire department took as many as 30 people to hospitals for drug, alcohol and heat-related illnesses.

One of them was 19-year-old Andrew Graf of Argyle who was pronounced dead at Baylor University Medical Center. The cause of his death remains under investigation.

"It was just unreal, that someone that you know died," said the victim's neighbor, Jordan Hinton. She recently attended Argyle High School with Graf.

A second person attending the event was said to be in critical condition Sunday at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

At one time, 10 different rescue units responded to the Electric Daisy Carnival. Evans said no ambulance transports were required at a rodeo that was taking place at another Fair Park venue on Saturday evening.

Authorities said the medical problems at the EDC were all related to heat, alcohol use or drug use.

The Electric Daisy Carnival  Web site said the Dallas event featured musical groups on five different stages starting at 4 p.m. and was sold out.

Sammy Garcia was among the estimated 23,000 young people at the event. He and others said the EDC was very crowded and extremely hot.

"Last year you could walk through and not hit someone; this year it was like every half-step you were bumping into someone," Garcia said. "It was pretty packed."

YouTube videos taken at the music festival shortly before it was reportedly shut down by police and the fire marshal show a large crowd, pulsating electronic music, and a laser beam light show.

"The fire marshal is here," said the announcement from a member of Skillrex, a band that had been performing for about 20 minutes.  "I'm going to get arrested if I keep playing. I want everybody to be safe and calm and get out of the building."

Dallas Fire-Rescue told News 8 that fire inspectors were on location. They requested bands take a break and turn on the lights to control the crowd, but say the request was refused.

The crowd broke up after a fire alarm was pulled.

Two citations were issued to the promoter of the event — one for overcrowding, and the other for failure to obey the order of the fire marshal.

The EDC Web site said  the carnival has a "zero tolerance policy for drug use or possession" and that the minimum age of admittance is 18.

Erika Raney, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Insomniac Events, told News 8 the company takes safety and security extremely seriously.

More than 200 security guards screened everyone who entered Fair Park — including emptying their pockets. No outside drinks — except for sealed bottled water — were allowed inside.

"For the duration of the event," Raney wrote in an e-mail to News 8, "the security staff employed state-of-the-art ID scanners to verify age."

The festival was open to ticketholders 18 years and older.

Raney also said three additional 30-ton air conditioning units were added to the venue, and that free water refill stations were set up inside.

The promoter said it is deeply troubled that a night of celebration could have ended in tragedy. Founded in 1993, Insomniac says it has produced more than 250 music events for more than two million concertgoers.

But Insomniac Events has already been under fire for its big parties.

A 15-year-old girl who collapsed during the Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles last year died of complications of the drug ecstasy. More than 226 people needed emergency medical treatment at the event, where there were 114 arrests for misconduct, drug possession and other charges.

The carnival is next set to go to Las Vegas, where it was relocated from Los Angeles. The three-day festival is set to begin Friday.

Frank Librio, a spokesman for the City of Dallas, said Sunday that city officials are gathering information on what happened at Fair Park.

"This event was conducted with all of the proper procedures, approvals and safety measures in place including pre-event meeting to address security and police staffing levels," he said in a statement.

Festival attendees went through a search process and no outside beverages were permitted other than sealed water bottles, Librio said. He also noted that the event was held last year at Fair Park and there were no "similar incidents."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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