Advertisement
  1. News

Two deaths after Tampa's Sunset Music Festival are investigated

Published Jun. 1, 2016

TAMPA — Two people died after attending the Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium over the Memorial Day weekend, according to Tampa police.

A 22-year-old man was hospitalized Saturday and died Sunday, Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty said, and a 21-year-old woman was taken to a hospital Sunday and died Monday.

The man was from Melbourne and the woman was from Kissimmee, police said, but neither person was identified. The cause of their deaths is still under investigation by the Hillsborough County medical examiner.

While investigators await the results of toxicology tests, Hegarty said that police think the deaths "are related to the Sunset Music Festival."

But those were not the only medical issues authorities dealt with during the electronic dance music concert on Saturday and Sunday, which was reportedly attended by 30,000 people. Tampa police said 57 people attending the event were taken to local hospitals.

"Obviously, that type of music tends to attract a certain type of fan that engages in certain types of drugs," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Tuesday.

The electronic dance music scene has a history of drug use and drug-related deaths, especially linked to the use of MDMA, the drug also known as ecstasy or Molly.

Supporters of the electronic dance music movement believe it has been unfairly tarnished by issues that can affect all concerts, while concert organizers themselves have tried to address safety by bringing in more security. In 2014, Billboard magazine reported that organizers of New York's annual Electric Zoo concert brought in drug-sniffing dogs. There's even a nonprofit, Dance­Safe, that's trying to improve the health and safety of raves.

This is the fifth year the Sunset Music Festival was held at Raymond James Stadium. It was the fourth Sunset festival attended by Valerie Rodriguez, 20, of Tampa. She said this year's festival made her nervous because of all the medical emergencies she saw.

After attending 15 electronic dance music concerts and six music festivals, she has gotten used to seeing lots of drugs, as well as paramedics on standby. But over the weekend, she saw something she had never seen at a concert before: people constantly being rushed to the hospital.

"This one was really uncontrolled," Rodriguez said. "No one really knows what they're taking."

She wishes that more concertgoers would enjoy the music without the drugs.

"You don't need to do those drugs to enjoy the concert," she said.

Tampa police said they made 33 arrests at the concert, handed out 16 marijuana citations and issued four noise complaints. A spokesman for the concert promoter did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

Buckhorn said the festival should do more to promote safety and deter drug use, but he also knows the festival can't control the people who attend. That's why the attendees should take more responsibility and make better choices, he said.

"It worries me any time we have a loss of life here, particularly when it could have been prevented by better decisionmaking," the mayor said.

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Contact Ariana Figueroa at afigueroa@tampabay.com or (813) 226- 3350. Follow @ArianaLFigueroa.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Nicole Kristine Gaskins, 45, died Monday in a single-car crash on I-275. The Wesley Chapel woman was a mother of two. Jeanne Eror
    Nicole Kristine Gaskins, 45, died Monday when her car drifted off of Interstate 275 and crashed.
  2. FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2017, file photo, death row inmate Rodney Reed waves to his family in the Bastrop County District Court in Bastrop,  Reed is facing lethal injection for a murder he says he didn't commit. The execution was called into question by lawmakers, pastors, celebrities and the European Union. RICARDO BRAZZIELL  |  AP
    The 51-year-old had been set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
  3. Discussing sex education on Nov. 15 in Tampa are Christian conservative Terry Kemple, university health services coordinator Linsey Grove, Planned Parenthood outreach educator Paola Ferst and Hillsborough schools physical education and health supervisor Ashlee Cappucci. Not shown: County PTA Council President Damaris Allen. MARLENE SOKOL
    Lessons seek to strengthen students’ communication skills so they can make informed decisions.
  4. Henry "Shake" Washington is running for Hillsborough County School Board for the second time since 2018.
  5. Forensic Science investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office collect evidence at the scene of the shooting behind the Walmart Neighborhood Market, 6900 US Hwy 19 N, in Pinellas Park, on Friday, November 15, 2019. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The victim was a Walmart employee. He was on break at the time of the shooting.
  6. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  7. Jeremy Guerrero, 31, was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter and driving with a license suspended or revoked involving death, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He's accused of being impaired by methamphetamines when troopers said he caused a crash on Interstate 75 that killed a woman early Friday. Florida Highway Patrol
    The 31-year-old driver faces a charge of DUI manslaughter after causing the crash that killed a 57-year-old woman, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  8. The $3 billion Water Street project is slated to be complete by 2026 or 2027. How affordable will it be? SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A project executive ticked off many ways the $3 billion project will alter Tampa, but a Cafe con Tampa audience wanted details on what it will cost to live there
  9. A total of 131 employees are scheduled to be laid off in January as Locale Market and Farm Table Cucina close at the Sundial to make way for a new food hall created by the developers of the Heights Public Market at the Armature Works in Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES
    In a notice to the state of Florida, Sundial owner Bill Edwards said the layoffs are expected to take place the first week of January.
  10. Investigators say Traci Hudson stole more than $500,000 from a man she had guardianship over.
    Traci Hudson, 51, spent the money on personal purchases ranging from utilities to jewelry to Tampa Bay Buccaneers tickets.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement