UPDATE 01/01/17: Music Feeds has obtained exclusive footage of the crowd crush which occurred at the Victorian leg of Falls Festival in Lorne on Friday night.
19-year-old Victorian woman Olivia Jones, who was caught up in the crowd crush, tells Music Feeds that while she fell unconscious during the stampede, she remembers “thousands of people” attempting to leave the tent following DMA’s performance.
“Everyone was really squished together, shuffling and it created a bit of a motion and people began to fall over like a domino effect. It created a really massive pile. Most people unconscious, everyone screaming for help, people unable to breathe,” she says.
“It looked like a war zone, honestly. There was blood everywhere, the grass was stained with blood.”
Jones ended up in hospital, fearing that she’d broken her legs. “I thought I had broken legs because of all the pressure when I was underneath everyone being crushed, I lost all feeling in my legs and I wasn’t able to walk or feel my legs,” she says.
Jones has since been discharged from hospital and the feeling has returned to her legs. She believes the incident could have been prevented with larger exits, and more exits.
“The exits weren’t large enough, there wasn’t enough of them and I think they should’ve had security on the exits, slowing people and allowing people to leave,” she says.
Levigh Giles-Stubna, who says he was in the first row of people attempting to leave the DMA’s performance when the stampede occurred, has called the incident “absolutely shocking” on Facebook.
“I literally had people yelling and screaming at me for help to be pulled out from underneath the crowd while people at the back were still pushing and just making the situation worse, people with black eyes, bleeding were the lucky ones I pulled out a bloke with his knee out of the socket and he told me to leave him and try help others stuck from being,” he writes.
“With such a large tent there needs to be bigger/more exits rather than 2 which are only 5m or so wide, with hundreds of not low thousands of poring out of the exit on top of the hill im surprised this hasn’t happened before. Hope all that were involved are ok.”
A mother, Jennifer Peers, says her son was injured in the crowd crush, and has shared a picture of his bandaged legs after tracking him down at Lorne hospital.
“Kids were terribly hurt and unable to move after being trampled on,” she writes on Facebook.
“Our son witnessed young people with broken limbs, bruised and bleeding bodies and yet the Falls Festival claims it was a minor incident… Our son is now traumatised after being at the bottom of a pile of bodies, battered, bruised and unable to work.”
Imogen Mitchell, a sister of a punter at Lorne, relayed on Facebook what her sibling has told her about the crowd crush, saying it “was the worst thing she has ever experienced in her life”.
“She had to pull a girl out from beneath people and her eyes had rolled to the back of her head and she wasn’t breathing,” Mitchell writes.
“From the pressure build up of people trying to exit one of the three ‘very small’ exits too fast lead to this! People in the exit were piled upon each other 3 meters high just getting crushed. No bodily function was possible, if you were lucky you could only just breathe.”
Many people commenting on Facebook, including Mitchell, are describing scenes of smashed phone screens, shoes ripped of people’s feet and blood. View some of their posts in full, below.
Entertainment at Falls Festival is due to resume today, with organisers assuring that none of the injuries sustained are critical and that phone lines have been set up to allow people to call home.
“The safety and wellbeing of our patrons is of paramount concern to us,” organisers say in a statement.
“Whilst a very distressing situation, we are heartened and thankful for the amazing work of our medical teams and staff who responded with such care and support to those affected and continue to do so for the remaining duration of the festival.”