Shortly after 11:30 last night, not long after an infinitesimally small amount of Dallasites elected a new mayor, the calls and email began pouring in, all saying more or less the same thing: Chaos has erupted at the Electric Daisy Carnival dance-fest at Fair Park; dozens of ambulances on the scene. Dallas Police and Fire-Rescue dispatchers confirmed over the scanner: Ambulance drivers were told to take patients to Baylor and return to the Perry-Washington entrance.
EMS said they needed to "disperse" patients, lest Baylor get overwhelmed. The word "overdose" was used frequently; "heat exhaustion" too. Pete, who'd been there with Schutze, was on his way to an Erykah Badu-?uestlove DJ set at the Rio Room when he U-turned back to Baylor and discovered that at least one teen had died. Dozens more, out of the thousands in attendance, were hospitalized.
Then, this morning, rumors began circulating again: There were more deaths than initially reported. City officials were told: There may be as many as three, all "drug-related." But Dallas Fire-Rescue and the Dallas County Medical Examiner's office tell Unfair Park they know of only one: 19-year-old Andrew James Graf of Argyle. "We've confirmed only one," says the ME's office. "Hospitals have not called to notify us of others."
There has also been much talk that the Fair Park buildings in which Electric Daisy took place became overheated due to air-conditioning units that buckled in the heat. City Manager Mary Suhm tells Unfair Park this afternoon that there were "no air-conditioning issues." She says Trane had "been out there the week before to check the system, and it ran 100 percent. It's possible somebody may have opened doors" to accommodate the crowds. Schutze, who was there, says the Automobile Building doors were indeed open when he arrived.
"It was," he says, "hot in there."
Suhm says city officials were aware of drug concerns following the Ecstasy overdose of a 15-year-old at last year's Los Angeles Electric Daisy. That, she says, is why "people were being searched" as they entered Fair Park last night. Schutze says that's absolutely what happened: "I had to turn my pockets inside-out -- everyone did," he reports. "The entrance process was four separate stations to check not just for tickets, but what you had on you, to look at you. It was very efficient."
Suhm has been in communication with Dallas police, fire-rescue, medical and Fair Park officials; she says she'll update later if she gathers more concrete details. Regardless, she says, "First thing tomorrow we'll gather up everybody and figure out what the issues are."
Update at 5 p.m.: Frank Librio, spokesman for Dallas City Hall, sent a statement regarding last night's events. It reads, in full:
City officials are gathering information from various sources, including event-goers, regarding the event last night at Fair Park. This event was conducted with all of the proper procedures, approvals and safety measures in place including pre-event meetings to address security and police staffing levels. All festival attendees went through a driver's license screening and search process which included searching attendees' bags as well as having people empty their pockets. No outside beverages were permitted other than a sealed water bottle. Festival rules were posted at all entry points. Dallas Fire-Rescue had three medical assistance stations on site. There were no issues with air conditioning which was fully operational. Fair Park hosted this event in 2010 without similar incidents.