Electric Daisy Carnival: Drug-Related Death 'Will Not Threaten' Fest's Future

David Guetta performs at EDC Las Vegas on June 10, 2012 / Photo by Steven Lawton/FilmMagic
David Guetta performs at EDC Las Vegas on June 10, 2012 / Photo by Steven Lawton/FilmMagic
Devon Maloney WRITTEN BY
Devon Maloney

Two attendees of Electric Daisy Carnival, a 22-year-old and a 31-year-old, died during the early morning hours of the fest's three-day Las Vegas Speedway iteration earlier this month, both stemming, at least in part, from substance abuse. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (via the Hollywood Reporter), Emily McCaughan, a University of Arizona pre-med student, jumped out the window of her 27th floor hotel room at the nearby Circus Circus hotel, apparently having taken Ecstasy at the festival and subsequently hallucinated, telling her friends that "a man [was] stalking her." They brought McCaughan back to the hotel in a cab, where they left her in her room, and where McCaughan took to Facebook to post pleading messages like "they haven't come for me yet" on friends' walls. When her friends received the notifications, they returned with hotel security to find that she had taken the SIM card out of her cell phone to avoid being tracked, attempted to barricade her hotel room door, and had squeezed through the security bars over the room's windows to leap to her death; she was found on the roof of a third-floor structure nearby.

Another attendee, a 31-year-old from Florida, was hit by a truck as he was exiting the Speedway and died at a local hospital Saturday morning after being treated by on-site trauma doctors and then transported; police say he had been drinking.

Despite these tragedies, however, EDC promoter Insomniac has told the AP that, unlike in recent years, the deaths "will not threaten the future of EDC in Las Vegas," despite its being "deeply saddened" by the deaths, which they carefully pointed out "occurred outside" the festival's boundaries.

The multi-city EDM fest has had its troubles in recent years. Not only have multiple deaths of its young attendees — that of a 15-year-old girl who overdosed at its L.A. iteration in 2010 and that of a 19-year-old man at its Dallas event last year — forced both site relocations and a litany of citations; earlier this year, Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella was arrested with five others in Los Angeles in line with a massive corruption case that involved 29 counts of bribery, embezzlement, conspiracy, and conflict of interest between the defendants. (SPIN contributor Chris Martins thumbed through the court documents and considered the possibility of political motives in the country's current "War on Raves.") The same weekend that saw the deaths of McCaughan and the unnamed truck accident victim was also struck by extreme wind conditions, which forced organizers to herd attendees into the Speedway's stands, knocking out a good four hours of the headliners' performances.

And of course, the news from Vegas is also just the latest in another string of tragedies for festivals all over the world, including the death of a teen at Scotland's RockNess festival and, most recently, the collapse of Radiohead's outdoor stage in Toronto last weekend, which killed one of the band's drum techs, Scott Johnson, and injured three more. For a little more perspective on the complications festivals have faced over the past year, read our rundown of last summer's worst, including where, when, and why they happened, as well as what has happened in the aftermath.

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