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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

River Fest results in multiple injuries

Emergency+Medical+Services+attend+to+injured+students+outside+River+Fest+on+April+11%2C+2024.
Eleanor Munoz
Emergency Medical Services attend to injured students outside River Fest on April 11, 2024.

At least two students were injured at River Fest on April 11 after attendees forced their way into Sewell Park, breaking down the barricades.

University Police Department (UPD) Sgt. Michael Rodriquez, who was on-site, said 20,000 to 30,000 people were in attendance. However, UPD Chief of Police Matthew Carmichael, who is out of town, said approximately 5,000 students were at River Fest. Meanwhile, Texas State Fire Marshal James Frye who was also on-site said there were less than 10,000 people there, but he does not know the exact number.

“There would be no definitive way to say [how many people were in attendance]. If you ask five different people you’re probably going to get five different numbers,” Frye said.

In a statement sent via email to The University Star, Texas State wrote the festival closed its gates after the park was at capacity.

“The venue capacity limit of 5,000 was met at approximately 7 p.m. due to overwhelming demand,” Texas State wrote in the statement. “At this time, UPD and [Texas State] staff members informed individuals outside the entrance gates that access would not be possible.”

While Texas State said the gates closed due to the capacity being met, the River Fest webpage and an Instagram post by the one of the event organizers, Student Association for Campus Activities (SACA), said the gates were scheduled to close to new entries and re-entries at 7 p.m. regardless of attendance.

In response to this, Carmichael said at around 7:30 p.m. students pushed down the gates surrounding Sewell Park three separate times. It took security five to 10 minutes to get the gates back up, according to Carmichael.

“[Security and staff] were scanning IDs and once people rushed the gates, they lost control…,” Frye said. “They chose to cram a large number of people in a small area… it was unfortunate things happened like that.”

Carmichael reported two injuries at the festival, but an on-site security officer who chose to remain anonymous said he believed it was more than two injuries. Rodriquez said there were three injured students, and Frye said he witnessed three attendees get transported by San Marcos and Hays County EMS.

Even with EMS on-site, Hays County Citizen Connect shows UPD made two calls labeled as “Assist EMS/Fire,” showing a need for more medical aid.

“I don’t believe anybody is hospitalized due to injuries,” Carmichael said.

While Texas State wrote in a statement the venue’s max capacity stood at 5,000, Frye said he provided organizers with a capacity number of 8,500 for Sewell Park, specifying 4,000 for the left side of the river and 4,500 for the right.

“Had I known the exact setup, I would have probably limited [the capacity] to about 7,000 just because the stage was so big,” Frye said. “The problem was everybody wanted to be in that 100 by 200 feet space [in front of the stage]. So in the future… we need to figure out how to manage the amount of people that we’re gonna allow on that side of the river.”

Flight by Nothing, the opening band for Tyga at River Fest, was set to go on at 7:30 p.m. but had a 10-minute delay due to the events that unfolded, according to Lead Singer Conner Redden.

Redden said they had to stop playing multiple times during their performance when they saw audience members in need of medical help.

“It’s clear as day when I would see people waving their hands or shining lights and I clearly know something is going on here… we’re not just gonna stand there and not act like people need help,” Redden said.

According to Carmichael, there were “well over 25” security personnel including sworn police officers, UPD, non-sworn public safety officers and additional security contracted through Gary Job Corps.

“Had this situation gotten out of control or became unmanageable or untenable, we would have activated emergency mutual aid…,” Carmichael said. “We had adequate staffing to address the event.”

Carmichael said it is routine to call UPD officers from their regular patrols to bolster security at larger events.

“We had to call UPD officers from regular patrol because we weren’t ready for a crowd,” Rodriquez said. “It was chaos.”

Redden said Texas State’s organization was helpful but he believes the university should implement tighter security for future events of this size.

“There was some confusion on stage at certain points about whether to continue through the set or wrap it up,” Redden said. “There were just a lot of problems out in the audience with people passing out… at that point, it was way over capacity; that was after the fence broke down.”

Carmichael said no arrests were made in relation to River Fest. Texas State said the university could not comment on whether the students who trampled the barricade would receive any punishment.

“To adhere to federal privacy laws, TXST University refrains from commenting on specific student conduct cases,” Texas State wrote in the statement.

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