Woman injured by Lollapalooza gate crashers, blames lax security
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org August 6, 2012 3:28PM
Updated: September 8, 2012 6:13AM
Cindy Glaser bought a pair of $100 day passes to Lollapalooza on Friday hoping to hear Black Sabbath, her husband’s “favorite band of all time.”
Instead, the Elgin couple left Grant Park in an ambulance long before Black Sabbath took the stage — with Cindy strapped into a back board and a neck brace — and spent five hours in the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Glaser, 39, suffered a severe cervical neck sprain after being hit from behind by a mob of gate crashers who broke down a double row of fencing, vaulted over a row of port-a-potties and hit the Elgin woman from behind.
It happened at around 5:30 p.m. Friday while the couple was sitting on a grove just east of the Bud Light main stage.
“They knocked the fence over. I heard the crash. The kids started running. And we were hit from behind. A kid bent me in half. His head hit my husband’s head and he hit me in the back of the neck and bent my head forward. I couldn’t see anything until the kids hit us,” Glaser said.
“One of the kids who fell over us laid there and tried to get off. By then, police came and peeled him off and put handcuffs on him. Some people said it was about 50. Police were only able to catch three of them.”
Glaser said she arrived at Grant Park with her guard down after reading a Chicago Sun-Times story about the increased fencing and security promised by Texas-based C3 Presents, Lollapalooza’s organizer, to prevent gate-crashing, fence- jumping and a repeat of last year’s landscape-trampling debacle.
She left in pain, furious about the security lapse, the $200 in wasted concert tickets and the hefty bill that she’s about to get for the ambulance ride and emergency room visit.
“If there were kids who wanted to break in, they should have been stopped before they had a chance to hurt us. Instead, I spent the evening in the emergency room. I couldn’t move, all because these kids were being irresponsible and there wasn’t anyone there to stop them until after I was hurt,” Glaser said.
“I had a reasonable expectation of safety there. We weren’t in a mosh pit. We weren’t close to the stage. We were very far away. We weren’t anywhere near where we would expect to be injured. If there’s that many kids able to break in and hurting people jumping off these port a potties, there needs to be some extra security around the perimeter. I didn’t see any security.”
Chicago Park District spokesperson Jessica Maxey-Faulkner had no immediate comment about the incident.
Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said about 20 people jumped the fence, but the majority ignored officers’ demands to stop and disappeared into the crowd. One officer was injured during the incident.
“There were extra precautions taken to ensure the safety of concert attendees and residents during Lollapalooza. These individuals were arrested as soon as possible after having jumped the fence,” she said.
Bob O’Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy, said he walked more than 100 miles around Grant Park during the three-day festival and heard of only two gate-crashing incidents — one at Monroe and Columbus, the other the one that injured Glaser.
“I would prefer to have no incidents of gate crashing. But, it’s almost impossible to have zero incidents when you have 270,000 people on 120 acres over three days given how spontaneous and quickly they do it,” O’Neill said.
“There was a lot of security. The double-fencing really helped. It was eight-feet high throughout the perimeter. It’s hard to get over two fences quickly. It’s unfortunate the person was injured. But overall, I’m satisfied. Little or no landscaping was destroyed.”
During Saturday’s severe thunderstorm warning, the city made the unprecedented decision to shut down Lollapalooza for roughly three hours. Despite confusion about where to go, O’Neill said the evacuation of Grant Park went relatively well.
But, he said, “The only thing I didn’t like besides the gate crashing was I don’t think people should be trashing the turf by dancing in the mud and tearing it up as they were doing after the rain. They were destroying the park. They don’t need to do that. That was unfortunate.”