An eyewitness to the trampling of an Ultra security guard says the moment of mob violence was "one of the worst things I've ever seen."
Ivette Lozano was outside the music festival Friday night when she saw a group of young men suddenly force their way over a flimsy chain-link fence. Trampled under the teenagers' feet was 28-year-old security guard Erica Mack, who is now fighting for her life in the hospital.
"I was horrified," Lozano says of the moment when she saw Mack's crumpled body. "I honestly thought she was dead. She was so limp, her body was so twisted in different areas, I thought she was dead."
UPDATE: Ultra has issued a statement on the incident. See below for details.
Lozano, a legal assistant, was herself looking forward to Ultra. She had attended the EDM festival in past years. This time, she bought a Saturday-only ticket for $175.
Around 8:30 p.m. Friday, she and a friend decided to check out the Ultra crowd on their way to another event. They walked north along Biscayne Boulevard past a long line of people waiting to get in. Then they doubled back toward their car.
On the way back, however, Lozano saw a group of young men combing the fence for weak spots. "You could tell they were casing for the perfect spot to rush the gate," she says.
Suddenly, a kid in shorts and a tank top sprinted out from the group and toward the fence.
"Stop! Stop!" screamed Mack, the unarmed security guard.
But the kid didn't listen. As he began to climb the metal rungs, the flimsy fence bent underneath him. Then his buddies began pushing forward as well, toppling the fence on top of Mack and crushing her beneath their feet as they poured inside Ultra.
"They all knew what they were going to do," Lozano says. "I'm sure they didn't mean to hurt her, but they were very much aware she was standing there. The first couple of people must have seen her because they were stepping all over her."
"People from all around starting running over, running over her, trampling her," Lozano says. "I was frozen in place."
"The cops literally looked at it and just shrugged and called it in on the radio," she says. "They knew that it was too much for them, and they didn't know the security guard was getting trampled."
When the stampede finally stopped, all Lozano could see was a sickly, twisted leg sticking out from underneath the fencing.
"It was so dark you still couldn't see her," she says. "I saw someone on the floor with her leg backwards. I pointed it out to cops, and they rushed over. She was just [passed] out. A security guard twisted her leg back into place."
Courtesy of Ivette Lozano
"She must have been in shock, because her head was turning but she was out," Lozano says. "Her fingers were crushed, and her face was completely messed up. That was when the cops told us to leave."
Lozano left. But when she attended Ultra the next day, her stomach dropped at the sight of other CSC security guards. "I instantly saw the people in their uniforms and thought of whether that lady was OK."
Mack remains in stable but critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred this weekend at Ultra Music Festival," CSC vice president Devan Schulz said in an email to Riptide. "We will continue to keep Erica Mack and her loved ones in our thoughts and prayers as we closely monitor her condition."
UPDATE: Ultra has also issued a statement.
The event organizers of Ultra Music Festival share the sentiments of our security partner, CSC, with regard to the condition of Erica Mack, the security guard currently receiving treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The Ultra Family hopes for a swift and full recovery.
The event organizers prohibit any form of unlawful entry into the event grounds. Preliminary investigations show that the incident was caused by individuals not in possession of event tickets and who were determined to gain unauthorized entry.
Every year the event organizers work collaboratively with police and other municipal partners along with the organizers' independent security partners to ensure the safety of all patrons, crew and working personnel.
Because a thorough investigation is underway, event organizers regret that additional comment cannot be provided at this time. The event coordinators are cooperating fully with investigative authorities.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff have both expressed outrage over the incident and have called for Ultra to be moved out of Miami. Lozano agrees.
"It's a reality check as to the fact that you're placing such a massive music festival in such a [busy] area," she says. "I feel like Ultra has gotten out of control. There are many other places in South Florida where it would be done right, like open fields in Homestead."
Lozano says it was too dark, and the attack too sudden, to identify any of the kids who trampled Mack. But she says she is disgusted by what they did.
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"It sucks that Ultra is $500, but you either save up money or just don't go," she says. "It's just a weekend. It's not worth someone's life."