Pemberton Music Festival statement on the death of Nick Phongsavath
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.
Jul 21, 2014 at 10:43am
This death is a homicide?
They continued partying on?
Jul 21, 2014 at 12:10pm
B.C.'s Altamont? You're comparing Pemberton to one of the worst examples of festival disorganization in rock 'n' history? Riiigghhhttt no exaggeration there at all.
The rest of Pemberton went off smooth as butter.
People die at these massive gatherings all the time. Pemberton was only 75,000 but think of similar events in Europe. Put 500,000 people in one place and one or two occasionally OD or whatever.
This wasn't quite Altamont.
Jul 21, 2014 at 12:31pm
This kid had a life Eric. Show some respect. He meant a lot to a lot of people, more than this festival ever will. Show a little kindness and be a human. Don't be a fucking douche. Nick was one of the fucking coolest people I have ever and will ever meet.
Jul 21, 2014 at 4:02pm
the next time you see a fight happening I hope people think of Eric and intervene. It takes 2 seconds to change someone's life forever. you can blame this on booze. on lack of security. on over-stimulation in a festival atmosphere, but those are just excuses and they won't bring back the life that has been extinguished. be kind to each other. treat every person like they have value. and if you see someone else not living up to that practice, for heaven's sake DO SOMETHING.
Jul 21, 2014 at 4:05pm
Everyone I met at the show paid their respects to Nick especially as we were leaving the campgrounds and passed his memorial site. My deepest empathy goes out to his family who will not be expecting him home. It saddens me this had to happen.
I have a hard time believing it was a homocide. I was there that day, it was so hot out, we all had to trek 3km walk with all our camping gear. I have a feeling he got to dehydrated and died peacefully in his tent.
Jul 21, 2014 at 6:33pm
While we're all entitled to our opinions, the police were involved and they labelled it suspicious. If he had foam coming out his mouth and cocaine all in his nostrils blocking airflow, they probably wouldn't call it "suspicious".
Finding someone dead in a tent, probably 50' from the most trafficked area in the campground, is suspicious. To think nobody saw anything, at any time, is suspicious.
A drug overdose is not suspicous. Hence, IHIT.
Jul 21, 2014 at 10:04pm
Absolutely appalling. No two ways about it. Disgraceful and wrong that the event continued. Someone needs to say, 'Stop.' Reeling from how shocked I am and disgusted that partying is at this place now.
Jul 21, 2014 at 11:14pm
In answer to your question Cathy, No, not B.C.'s Altamont. Not even close. Pemberton music festival was well organized and had a decent amount of security and police presence (no hells angels security for beer scheming going on there).
This incident happened outside the festival grounds in the festival designated campground. Very sad indeed but they did the right thing, The show must go on as they say. I can only imagine the chaos that would have entailed had they pulled the plug on the remaining two days of the festival.
Jul 21, 2014 at 11:16pm
FYI there was not 75,000 people there.
There was less than 20,000 but if you multiply that by the 4 days you get close to 75,000.
I heard there may have been as little as 10,000 campers and barely any shuttled people daily.
Jul 22, 2014 at 11:41am
Many of us hadn't even heard about it until at least a day later and we were only camping one campground over. We also didn't know what rumours to believe either. There were so many conflicting ones. The first one was of overdose the others were of a violent nature and nobody had any real facts. Never-the-less it's such a tragedy and I feel so sad for his family and friends. I can't imagine it would have been a good idea to cancel with that many people there. The logistics of moving that many people (intoxicated and otherwise) off-site would have been a total nightmare and could have possibly caused even more tragedy. I think organizers and RCMP made the right call as heartless as it may seem to some.