The four-year legal saga that proceeded the tragic stampede at Falls Festival’s 2016 Lorne Leg has finally wrapped up, with the Victorian Supreme Court approving a multi-million dollar settlement for those injured.
The stampede incident at Falls Festival 2016/2017 occurred on Friday, 30th December on the heels of a set by DMA’s in the Grand Theatre at around 11pm. Hundreds of punters streamed through a small exit, which witnesses say became a bottleneck, as many tried to make their way to a performance by London Grammar.
Nineteen fans were hospitalised with serious injuries, including then-22-year-old Maddy, who gave the following account of her experience:
“I fell over the girls who had fallen down, and I kind of flipped and went on my back and started getting dragged along the ground. That’s when panic set in — I started screaming.
People just started piling on top of me. I was still moving until it wasn’t possible for me to move myself. I don’t know how many people were on top of me but I was at the very bottom.
I was screaming until I couldn’t anymore because the air was crushed out of my lungs. I remember telling myself, ‘Go up for air, go up for air,’ but I couldn’t move at all. It wasn’t painful being crushed, it was more painful not being able to breathe.
I couldn’t move any limbs and my head was to the side facing down. There were legs next to me and I remember biting someone to try and get them to pull me up.
I just remember going, ‘This is it, this is death. This is you dying.’ And then I blacked out.”
While another Falls Festival-goer also spoke about hearing “bones snapping” during the accident.
Shortly after the stampede, “devastated” Falls Festival organisers apologised for the accident, and said they would investigate what had occurred.
Following the court’s decision today, about a third of the victims — those who suffered the most serious injuries — will receive financial compensation in the vicinity of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Maddens Lawyers’ Kathryn Emeny told the ABC: “In respect of some of the larger claims, we anticipate the compensation payment will be life changing”
“These were young people in their late teens or early twenties…” she continued. “This horrific event really derailed their lives. Each group member is continuing to deal with that.”
Meanwhile, in their own statement to the public broadcaster, a Falls Festival spokesperson added: “We hope that the settlement will bring some relief and closure for all of the participants.
“We also want to assure the participants and all those who attend our events, that health and safety is our number one priority. We care deeply about the welfare of our patrons, and are continually improving and adapting our safety protocols on an ongoing basis.”
It comes after this summer’s instalment of Falls Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19, with organisers telling fans to “consider it a raincheck”.