July 8, 2013 in City, Region

Gorge Amphitheater won’t change security after concert death

Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press
 

SPOKANE – Despite the death of a young man during a music festival from a possible drug overdose, no major changes are planned for security at the popular Gorge Amphitheater.

Kyle Foreman, spokesman for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, said a certain amount of drug and alcohol abuse is to be expected at the venue. The Gorge for more than two decades has been luring major performers and big crowds to sparsely populated Grant County, which is about 125 miles west of Spokane. During some shows, the Gorge surpasses Moses Lake to become the largest community in Grant County.

Because of the remoteness of the location, many patrons camp at the site, often for several days. The big campground is known for raucous partying.

Foreman said deputies and private security officers patrol the campground, but there are still reports of drug and alcohol abuse, fights and sexual assaults.

“Every weekend, at most concerts, we expect arrests for drugs and assault,” Foreman said. “It’s common at all concerts.”

The Paradiso Festival drew more than 25,000 people on June 28-29, and more than 70 ended up going to area hospitals, many because of apparent drug overdoses.

But Foreman noted that is still a relatively tiny percentage of the total attendees at the festival, which featured dozens of electronic music performances.

“We have a lot of concertgoers who come to concerts who do not partake of alcohol and drugs,” Foreman said. “The majority of people who attend don’t cause problems.

“We plan to conduct our business as best we can,” he added.

In a statement emailed last week, festival co-producers Live Nation and USC Events said they were “committed to bringing people together to experience music in a safe environment.”

More than a dozen events remain on the Gorge schedule for the rest of the summer.

The sheriff’s office handled 62 calls for service at the Paradiso Festival and arrested 23 people for various charges, which appears to be about average for a concert weekend.

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