Mayor, Commissioner Want To Oust Ultra
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MIAMI (CBS4) – The Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami wrapped up Sunday night, possibly for the last time.
Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff called for an end to the city hosting the festival after Contemporary Services Corporation guard Erica Mack was trampled Friday night while trying to stop a group of people who didn’t have tickets that stormed a fence to get inside.
“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.
Mack, 28, whose condition improved a bit Sunday, remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Due to the trampling incident plus the arrests, drug over doses and fence hopping in past years, Regalado and Sarnoff want to oust Ultra.
Also raising concerns, a 21-year-old man was found dead in his car after the event.
“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.”
Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said the concert should have been surrounded by heavy steel fencing, which is impossible to push over, but one spot had only a weak chain-link.
“And we brought to their attention, we told them ‘listen this area of the fence is weak you need to secure it better,” said Chief Orosa.
But the fix was flimsy.
“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.
Some Ultra Fest fans are distraught to learn the huge event may not be held again.
“I think it may be a struggle to keep it going but I would like to see it happen next year,” Nate Gladin, an Ultra Fest-attendee from Virginia Beach.
City of Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo said he will oppose running-off Ultra that brings an estimated $79 million to local business.
“There’s no doubt that the economic impact to Downtown Miami, to the City of Miami, and to this whole community is huge,” said Carollo.
Orosa said some of the event’s promoters could face criminal charges if it can be proved that they knowingly erected that faulty fencing. Those festival-goers who trampled the security guard can be charged too if they can be identified.
The police chief is asking for anyone who might have cell phone video to come forward.
Mayor Regalado, on Sunday, said “”What happened this weekend is an event that could have been avoided. The organizers of Ultra did not follow the police directive to re-enforce the fence, even though they knew that this year, and the year before, some kids have tried to overrun the fences.”
Ultra’s organizers issued a statement Sunday which read in part “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.”
As for the fence issue, “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,” according to the statement.
On Sunday, police made 29 arrests. Over the three day weekend, there were a total of 84 arrests, most for misdemeanors. Last year, Miami police arrested 167 people during the festival, mostly on drug-related charges and trying to enter the event without paying.
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 50 rescues on Sunday and total of 153 rescues over the three day festival.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.