Miami City Officials Call For End To Ultra Music Fest
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MIAMI (CBS4) – Sunday was day three of one of the biggest electronic music events in the country.
Some city officials, however, are calling for the end of the Ultra Music Festival in downtown Miami after Contemporary Services Corporation guard Erica Mack was trampled Friday night while trying to stop a group of people who didn’t have tickets who stormed a fence to get inside. Mack, 28, was listed as “critical” but stable at Jackson Memorial Hospital with severe brain hemorrhaging.
“She was not strong enough to deal with a mob of people that actually pushed this fence down, pushing her backwards and the fence landing on top of her. Now these people started trampling on top of her just to get into the event, as a result she sustained major head trauma as well as a broken leg,” said Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll.
Due to the trampling incident plus the arrests, drug over doses and fence hopping in past years, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado along with City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff want Ultra out.
“The mayor and I will be proposing a resolution in front of the commission that would deny them the ability to have Ultra in the future,” said Sarnoff. “I think they have overstayed their welcome.”
“What happened this weekend is an event that could have been avoided,” said Mayor Regalado on Sunday. “The organizers of Ultra did not follow the police directive to reinforce the fence, even though they knew that this year, and the year before, some kids have tried to over run the fences.In the next weeks we are going to have a discussion on the city commission level to deny the permits for next year for the event here in the city of Miami.”
Just hours before the Friday night stampede, Miami police had inspected the perimeter of the event at Bayfront Park and called for additional fencing at the spot where the guard was later injured. But no additional fencing was added, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
“What we were told by the Ultra security was that it was left open for a water vendor to have access to enter for water,” said Commissioner Sarnoff.
On Sunday, Ultra’s organizers issued the following statement.
“The event organizers of Ultra Music Festival share the sentiments of our security partner, CSC, with regard to the condition of Erica Mack, the security guard currently receiving treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The Ultra Family hopes for a swift and full recovery.
The event organizers prohibit any form of unlawful entry in to the event grounds. Preliminary investigations show that the incident was caused by individuals not in possession of event tickets and who were determined to gain unauthorized entry.
Every year the event organizers work collaboratively with police and other municipal partners along with the organizers’ independent security partners to ensure the safety of all patrons, crew and working personnel. Because a thorough investigation is underway, event organizers regret that additional comment cannot be provided at this time. The event coordinators are cooperating fully with investigative authorities.”
Commissioner Sarnoff said the situation could have been predicted and prevented. He’s called for answers, investigations and an end to Ultra in Miami.
“There was a sort of stampede of people who were trying to get in, very much like what happened last year, but it was about 500 people last year,” said Sarnoff. “They tried to get into the front gate last year and we had enough security from the City of Miami Police Department. They put their bikes across their chest and they pushed back and they were able to hold the people back. I’m asking the Chief and the Chief of Fire to meet with me, the Mayor, and the Miami-Dade County Mayor. Let’s get through this weekend and put this thing to bed, never come back again.”
Not everyone is on board with kicking out an event that brings in tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year.
“The structural issues can be resolved. This is not an event where it’s a problem inside. It’s a problem outside,” said Lt. Dan Kerr of Miami Fraternal Order of Police. “Some of the officers who work the event all three days appreciate that opportunity to work due to the fact we have had cuts with all of the stuff at city hall. This is a way for them to supplement their income.”
Miami police said they made 33 arrests on the second day of Ultra, up from 22 arrests on day one.
“I think we’re seeing a combination of things. We’re seeing the fence jumpers, we’re seeing some that go in sober and have to be taken out,” said Miami police spokeswoman Frederica Burden.
Calls for help also kept rescue crews busy. Miami firefighters used brand new vehicles, designed and built by the department, to navigate the crowds and reach patients. They were used to perform 55 rescues on Saturday.
“We’ve had some people sustain minor injuries as a result of dancing and then we’ve had some people that were found unconscious or used some illegal substances that caused them to overdose,” said Carroll.
“We want you to have fun but you know let’s keep in mind we have to do our job. We want to do our job safely everyone to go home safely and we want to go home safely,” said Burden.
The Ultra Music Festival wrapped up Sunday night.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.