With an estimated 345,000 revelers shuffling in and out of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the June 8-10 edition of Electric Daisy Carnival, unhindered by the collective paranoia of last year’s test run, I dreaded the possibility that an attendee would get a little too cavalier with recreational substances and become the first EDC Vegas casualty. The audience was just too large, in a city as freewheeling as Las Vegas, and I know the role drugs play in music culture. Similar scenarios have happened at non-rave music festivals with a much smaller attendance.
No one died inside the Speedway. However, two people did after exiting it, and that’s enough for media outlets to once again put the crosshairs on Insomniac, the producer of the event.
Less sensationalized was the first death: Olivier Hennessy, 31, of Florida, who was accidentally struck by a truck outside one of the parking lots, and died a week later. Accounts from friends claim he had been drinking inside the venue.
The juicier story was 22-year-old Emily McCaughan leaping to her death from her Circus Circus window on the 27th floor. Reported phone calls suggest she suffered from delusions and paranoia shortly before her fall, and her parents told the <em>Review-Journal</em> they blamed her alleged dosage of Ecstasy at the festival, with added censure toward her friends who didn’t watch after her.
McCaughan was a University of Arizona pre-med student, so she clearly knew what she was doing if and when she took any narcotic, and what dangers it might possess. If she took drugs, she made that choice, just as countless others who visit and live in Las Vegas make choices every day as to what danger zone they’ll broach in the name of revelry. In doing so, they automatically accept personal responsibility for their actions.
Such decisions have nothing to do with Insomniac. In fact, the promoter deters such behavior with its zero-tolerance drug policy, enforced by its security team and Metro. And if someone visits or is taken to the medic tent because they’re experiencing the adverse effects of insobriety, they are treated and kept safe.
Insomniac shut down its stages during the June 9 windstorm, to protect its guests should any of its structures have faltered. It accepted accountability for the safety of its attendees, based on factors it could control. What falls outside of its accountability and control are the actions of those very attendees, for which Insomniac should not be demonized or held liable. If one wants to enjoy the liberties of adulthood, one must assume the burden of self-discipline. MIKE PREVATT