The heavy metal band AC/DC halted Friday night's fatal rock concert as soon as it became aware of the danger to youths in the audience, say two Bountiful teens who were there in the front rows.
Philip Tate, 16, a son of Tim Tate; and Michael Jones, 17, a son of Gary Jones, agree that the Australian musicians stopped the music as soon as they became aware of the peril in the stifling general-admission section on the Salt Palace floor. Three young people died in the suffocating mass; a national television program is planning to cover at least some of their funerals."I don't think at first the band was aware of it," said Jones. "These concerts were pretty wild to begin with."
He saw one of the security guards - whom the teens call "bouncers" - try to stop the show. He saw this only once, "and right then Brian Johnson, the lead singer, said, `You want us to cut the show?' and they said `yes.' "Immediately, he said, Johnson stopped the music and asked the crowd to step back. "It said on the news that the band wouldn't stop, but as far as I know, I don't think that's true," he said.
He was in the very front of the mass of youths, hanging onto the railing. He was smothering, unable to move, and found it "real hard" to breathe.
A girl next to him, who also was unable to move, "kept saying, `Help me, help me, please help me,' and there was nothing they could do. The bouncers were pulling and there was no way to get 'em out."
The heat from people jammed together was like sitting in a hot tub, he said. "They didn't start pouring water until after the problem was stopped, and then they were pouring buckets . . . The guy (a bouncer) got a piece of ice and stuck it in my mouth," Jones added.
"I was scared to death. I thought I was going to die. I didn't have any control of my own fate there."
While the performance was going on, people who were in distress were passed overhead of the mass of youths on the floor.
"When they stopped the concert it was real strange . . . There were just people passed out all over the floor." Jones said of one girl who was pulled out: "Her eyes were open. She was gray; I thought she was dead right there."
Tate, who came home with a sore shoulder and many bruises on his back, said that he realized there was trouble when people were pushing from the back and the group at front began tipping over.
He was standing, but then the crowd tipped. "I ended up in a sitting position, kind of, with my legs toward the right side of me."
People were sitting on each others' laps, and more collapsed. "The situation kept getting worse and worse. We ended up laying on each other, kind of like a domino effect . . .
"It kept getting worse and worse, and I ended up in a laying position." More people were squashing down on top of him and the others in that area.
"I don't know exactly how many people were underneath me, but I would estimate four to five. And on top of me I would estimate three to four."
Security guards were grabbing arms and trying to pull people out. "Then people were on top of me and I couldn't see anymore.
"I got real claustrophobic, I guess I went crazy. I was just screaming . . . `Get these people off me!' " He was immobile for what seemed an eternity but a time that he estimates was really 10 to 15 minutes at most.
During the emergency about three songs were being played. Asked why the concert wasn't stopped immediately, Tate said, "I guess because nobody knew."
During the period that the pileup was going on, about three songs were played, he said. Between the songs, people in the crush would yell for the concert to stop, but because of the general noisiness, apparently that wasn't heard.
A security guard was yelling to others and motioning with his finger across his neck, indicated to cut the show - stop the concert. "Finally he got their attention, and the other bouncer was yelling up to the lead singer, Brian Johnson," Tate said.
"When the song was over, Brian Tate walked over to the center of the stage and knelt down on one knee." Then he asked for everybody to take steps backward.
"I could see the bouncer pointing up to the lights, then Brian Johnson said, `I need some lights on down here, please.' Then the lights came on, and like all the weight started getting taken off me. I could see again."
Guards ran in and began pulling people off the heap. They were taken to a safe area. Then people were giving the youngsters water and checking their condition.
"There was a young boy laying on the ground and he was pretty pale. People were giving him mouth-to-mouth and CPR," cardiopulmonary resuscitation, an attempt to revive him. The boy was also given electroshock jolts.