Sunset Music Festival hit its fifth year last weekend in Tampa Bay. The event was completely sold out, and though thousands of festivalgoers attended, not everyone returned home safe.
The festival has been making national headlines for not only the deaths of two attendees, but the apparent hospitalization required for 57 people who attended the weekend show at Raymond James Stadium.
Katie Bermudez, 21, of Kissimmee and Alex Haynes, 22, of Melbourne, passed away over the festival weekend. Authorities suspect overdose to be the likely cause of these deaths.
57 festivalgoers were transported to the hospital from the event, a number that St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa calls “frightening.” 33 arrests were made at the notoriously strict venue as well: 25 classified as felonies, 8 misdemeanors, and 16 individuals were cited for possession of marijuana.
The festival sent a statement to local news source WFLA:
“The health, safety and welfare of our fans and community is Sunset Music Festival’s first priority and we take every measure to create a safe environment at our events. Any loss of life is a tragedy and we extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those affected. Due to the ongoing investigation by the medical examiner’s office, Sunset will not issue additional comments at this time.”
A spokesperson for Tampa Sports Authority, which manages Raymond James Stadium, also released a statement to the press:
“We have received this information as you have through the Tampa Police Department’s release. We extend our condolences to these families for their loss. We will continue to work with the promoters of the Sunset Music Festival and local life safety agencies to provide the safest environment possible for their attendees.”
One of the victims’ mothers, Ms. Bermudez (Katie’s mother), was called to the hospital at 3 a.m. and claims that to her knowledge her daughter is not a heavy drug user. Katie suffered an extremely high fever and brain swelling before she passed away the following day at St. Joseph’s hospital.
“We don’t know [what happened]… They have an autopsy going on,” Katie’s mother said. “The hospital didn’t know, they were bewildered with how to treat this.”
The investigation behind the cause of death for both victims is ongoing.