The recent deaths of three people at the HARD Summer Music Festival in Fontana reignited a push by San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford to ban raves at the San Manual Amphitheater in Devore.
Officials at Auto Club Speedway, in unincorporated Fontana, and Live Nation have remained silent since the deaths of Derek Lee, 22, of San Francisco, Alyssa Dominguez, 21, of San Diego and Roxanne Ngo, 22, of Chino Hills, following last weekend’s event. Their causes of death remain under investigation and appear unrelated, authorities said.
In a statement released Friday, Rutherford said that while the causes of death have yet to be determined, it is common knowledge that many young people die at electronic dance shows due to overdoses.
“In light of these recent deaths, the Board of Supervisors should seriously consider banning these events from taking place at the county-owned San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore. We cannot wait for more young lives to be lost before we decide enough is enough,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford plans to discuss the matter with her fellow county supervisors during Tuesday’s board meeting.
Despite two deaths since 2013 and hundreds of complaints from area residents about excessive noise, loitering, drug use and heavy traffic generated by the Nocturnal Wonderland electronic dance show and its sister events at the San Manuel Amphitheater, Rutherford’s measure to terminate the county’s contract with Live Nation failed June 28 due to lack of board consensus when Supervisors Josie Gonzales and board chairman James Ramos did not show for the meeting. Supervisor Curt Hagman was against terminating the contract, saying revenue generated from the raves helps fund other county parks and infrastructure.
Another rave, Insomniac’s Nocturnal Wonderland, is scheduled for Labor Day Weekend at San Manuel Amphitheater.
Autopsies on Lee, Dominguez and Ngo were completed Thursday and toxicology tests were taken, said Capt. Kevin Lacy of the San Bernardino County coroner’s office on Friday. He could not say how long it would take for toxicology results or the causes of death to be determined.
HARD Summer spokeswoman Alexandra Greenberg declined to comment on what action the promoter was taking in response to the deaths.
“We were deeply saddened to learn about the deaths of three people who attended the festival this weekend,” Greenberg said in a statement. “Our sincerest thoughts and condolences are with their family and friends.”
Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen and spokesman David Talley did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Live Nation spokesman Victor Trevino also did not respond to repeated telephone calls seeking comment.
The three deaths at the Fontana festival bring the total number of people who have died at the HARD Summer Music Festival to six since 2013. Jonathan Reyes, 21, of Rosemead died after taking the drug Ecstasy at the festival in 2013 at the Los Angeles State Historical Park. Last August, Katie Dix, 19, of Camarillo and Tracy Nguyen, 18, of West Covina died of drug overdoses after attending the event at the Pomona Fairplex.
The deaths of Dix and Nguyen in Pomona last year prompted Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis to call for a ban on raves in the county. In March, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors stopped short of imposing a ban on raves, instead adopting an ordinance calling for a case-by-case threat assessment of events, including raves, expected to draw 10,000 or more people on county property or in unincorporated areas.
In April, HARD Summer promoters announced the event would be moving to Fontana this year. More than 146,000 people attended last weekend’s event, where police arrested 325 people, most for narcotics-related offenses, San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.
Solis said she was deeply saddened by the news of the most recent rave deaths in Fontana.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of these victims,” Solis said in a statement. “We hope that tragedies such as these can be prevented in the future.”
Solis said the county’s new threat-assessment ordinance for events drawing 10,000 or more people was prompted by a recommendation from the county’s Electronic Music Festival Task Force formed in September in response to the deaths of Dix and Nguyen and the hospitalization of dozens of others at the Pomona Fairplex last August.
San Bernardino County is now following Los Angeles County’s lead. At the June 28 San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors meeting, the board directed staff to draft an agenda item proposing the creation of a rave task force similar to the one in Los Angeles County.
But Los Angeles County has also modeled some of its measures after San Bernardino County’s efforts, San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said.
“When Los Angeles County decided to adopt measures to make these types of events as drug-free as possible in their county, they simply adopted the measures that have been in place at San Manuel (Amphitheater) since the first (electronic dance music) event took place there,” Wert said in an email. “Those measures include surrender bins, which patrons actually use; mandatory ID scans so that drug offenders and anyone with arrest warrants can be denied entry; and a heavy presence of uniformed and undercover law enforcement, all in addition to the usual regimen of searches upon entry.”
Since 2013, when the San Manuel Amphitheater began hosting electronic dance shows, two people died from drug overdoses after attending the events. Arrel Cochon, 22, of Hollywood died after attending the inaugural Nocturnal Wonderland event in 2013, and John Hoang Dinh Vo, 22, of San Diego died after attending the Beyond Wonderland event in March last year.
Live Nation’s contract, which allows the entertainment company to host up to four electronic dance shows a year at San Manuel Amphitheater, expires in October.
“Devore residents are subjected to window-rattling noise until 2 a.m., drugged out young people wandering through their yards, and intense traffic for entire weekends when the San Manuel Amphitheater hosts these events,” Rutherford said in her statement Friday. “The short-term economic benefits of these events do not outweigh the impacts they have on Devore residents, and they certainly do not warrant putting more young lives at risk.”
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