On July 18, the Straight reported that one person was found dead in a campground at the Pemberton Music Festival.
On Sunday (July 20), RCMP identified the deceased as Nick Phongsavath, a 21-year-old engineering student at the University of Regina.
The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) is still investigating the incident, which it is describing as “suspicious”.
The event—which was attended by an estimated 75,000 people—continued as scheduled following the young man’s death.
Huka Entertainment, the New Orleans-based production company putting on the festival, at first would only say that an “incident” had occurred. The organizer released the following statement late July 19, as the four-day event headed into its final night.
We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on July 18 in the Pemberton Music Festival campgrounds. A festival guest was found deceased inside the campground area.
The RCMP and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) have confirmed that the deceased is Nick Phongsavath, a 21-year old man from Regina, Saskatchewan. Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to Mr. Phongsavath’s friends and family.
The statement released by IHIT on July 19 at 4:00pm states that:
“On July 18, 2014 just after 6:00pm a male was found deceased inside his tent. The Whistler/Pemberton RCMP along with the BC Ambulance Service attended and all attempts to revive the victim were unsuccessful and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The victim’s identity has been confirmed to be 21 year old Regina resident, Nick PHONGSAVATH.
As it appeared that there may be indications of foul play, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was called and is currently leading this Suspicious Death investigation.”
The RCMP are continuing to investigate and we are doing everything possible to assist with their efforts. The RCMP are confident that this was an isolated incident and that the festival site is safe and well organized. With the support of the RCMP, we will continue with the Pemberton Music Festival. We hope that the festival community will come together and keep Mr. Phongsavath’s loved ones in their thoughts during this difficult time.
The safety of our attendees is always our primary concern. We have significant security resources on-site including security personnel, RCMP, customer service representatives and a full medical team. We are also providing on-site counseling services for all guests and staff.
We’d like to express our gratitude to Pemberton Fire Rescue, Village of Pemberton and SLRD Emergency Management for assisting us in caring for the campers who required relocation to other camping on-site in order to maintain the integrity of the incident scene. We are providing food, water, shelter and clothing to the fifty-five campers displaced by this incident. We further appreciate the cooperation and understanding of these festival attendees during this time. All of the affected campers are expected to be able to return to their campsites tonight.
At IHIT’s request, if there are individuals who have information about this death, who have not yet spoken with investigators, we are asking you call the IHIT tipline at 1-877-551-4448.
Pemberton Music Festival was created in the spirit of community and friendship. As we move into the fourth day of the festival, we remind everyone to look after their neighbours, report any concerns to security and help continue to make our event a safe and positive experience for everyone.
The RCMP has stated that no more information will be provided at this time. Updates may be relayed to media next week following an autopsy.