Band slammed for not reacting quickly to defuse the crowd crush that led to a teenage girl's death...

The coroner investigating the death of 15-year-old JESSICA MICHALIK at the BIG DAY OUT festival in SYDNEY in 2001 has criticised LIMP BIZKIT for not reacting more quickly to defuse the crowd crush at the festival which resulted in the girl’s death.

Senior deputy state coroner Jacqueline Milledge laid responsibility at the feet of festival promoters Creative Entertainment Australia, saying there was overwhelming evidence that crowd density was dangerous when Limp Bizkit went on stage. The Sydney Morning Herald reports her as saying: “There appears to be a reluctance on the part of the promoters and Mr Upton [senior risk consultant John Upton] to accept that the situation on that day was completely unacceptable.”

She said the promoters knew when they booked them what type of band Limp Bizkit are. “[They] have blamed the band for the crowd behaviour, saying that Limp Bizkit is a highly volatile act and that is the reason the crowd behaved as it did.” But she pointed out that the band’s style could and should have been known to the promoters before they were booked.

“It is obvious to everyone who views the videotape that people are squashed and jostled and at times are fighting for survival,” Ms Milledge said. “A fight Jessica Michalik lost.”

Ken West, representing Creative Entertainment Australia at the inquest, conceded that, in hindsight, relying on a response mechanism was “the wrong call”.

But Limp Bizkit also came in for criticism, with Ms Milledge saying Fred Durst could have taken the situation more seriously and reacted, stopping his “anti-authoritarian act.” She said his comments on stage during the attempt to rescue Jessica were “alarming and inflammatory”.

In a response to the inquest findings, Big Day Out promoters Creative Entertainment Australia, said they were “devastated” by Jessica’s death at the festival on January 26, 2001, describing her as an “ideal audience member who encapsulated all the youthful spirit, vitality, a love for music” and was an exemplary festival-goer, behaving well.

They outlined substantial changes which have been made to their safety procedures, including introduction of a secondary “D”-shaped barrier in January 2002, and a 12-point safety plan which included revisions to music policy, age restrictions and raising audience awareness of the danger caused by moshing and crowd-surfing.

“We have had an opportunity to present our case fully and believe that the facts put before the court indicate that we acted reasonably under very difficult circumstances. Although the finding is not an exoneration of all actions of Big Day Out promoters and staff, we acknowledge that we must accept the decision of the Coroner in this matter,” the statement said.

They also called for a national event safety code to be developed and applied to all large-scale events in the future.