BIG DAY OUT Organizers: 'LIMP BIZKIT Are Past Their Use-By Date'

November 8, 2002

The following item comes to us courtesy of the Herald Sun:

LIMP BIZKIT and the organizers of Australia's Big Day Out festival have come under fire from a coroner over the death of a teenage fan.

Senior NSW Deputy Coroner Jacqueline Milledge today (Nov. 8) handed down her findings into the death of 15-year-old Jessica Michalik at Sydney's Big Day Out concert in January 2001.

Ms Milledge found Jessica was crushed to death by the crowd and recommended high school students be educated in the dangers of moshing and crowd surfing at rock festivals.

But she criticized festival organizers Creative Entertainment for not properly assessing the risk of crushing.

"For promoters to be taken by surprise because their headline act causes excitement and reckless behavior shows they did not turn their mind to the crowd reaction to a particular performer," she told Glebe Coroners Court.

The coroner also had harsh words for headline act LIMP BIZKIT, in particular lead singer Fred Durst, for not stopping its performance once it became aware of crushing in the crowd.

"He should have acted more responsibly," she said of Durst.

"I accept that it may have been difficult for him to stop because of the intensity of his performing.

"However, it is very clear in the video that his words were inflammatory and indeed insulting to the security staff who were engaged in their best efforts to extricate crucially injured patrons from the crowd collapse."

Outside the court, organizers Vivian Lees and Ken West praised the corner's recommendations and said they had learnt from the 2001 festival.

"I think we do have to take a bit of responsibility for this," Mr Lees said.

"Everyone's had a major wake-up call from this." Mr Lees also took a parting shot at LIMP BIZKIT, saying the band would never be asked to return to play at the festival.

"I think LIMP BIZKIT are past their use-by date," he said.

But Durst said the band would only return to Australia when the industry was properly regulated.

"No-one is a winner in a court case where a young girl has lost her life," he said in a statement.

"When the industry is properly regulated I look forward to bringing the LIMP BIZKIT band back to Australia," he said.

As well as recommending students be educated on the dangers of mosh pits, crowd surfing and possible heat exhaustion, Ms Milledge also called on WorkCover to develop safety guidelines for large entertainment events.

But she was quick to point out that rock festivals and moshing should not be banned.

"The industry needs to be carefully scrutinized and regulated," she said.

"I am not saying these very good festivals should not go ahead. Nor am I saying moshing, slam dancing and crowd surfing should be banned."

Outside the court, Jessica's father, George Michalik, said he was pleased with the coroner's recommendations.

His daughter's death was not in vain, he said.

"I can go proudly. Jessica's life was not wasted. A lot of positive things have happened."

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