Okeechobee Issues Statement After Death of Attendee
Ashley Ferraro — 5 days ago
After the sixth edition of Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival has come to a close, the festival has taken to social media to address the apparent death of one of its attendees.
Unfortunately, not all those who attended Okeechobee made it home to their friends and family. The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to WBRZ that authorities were investigating an alleged downing that occurred at the festival over the weekend.
Subsequently, the Okeechobee County Sherriff’s Office confirmed via a Facebook comment that the apparent drowning was the only “major incident” that occurred at the festival, despite the “trolls starting rumors.” The Okeechobee County Sherriff’s Office may be referring to one of the rumors going around on social media that claims “4 girls were stabbed in their tent last night in their tent at okee.”
According to the WBRZ report, the victim is 26-year-old Steven Nguyen, who came to Okeechobee from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Nguyen’s friend has also taken to social media to express their sorrow and concerns about how the festival has handled the situation.
In a tweet on March 5th, one friend said, “The fact that I’m finding out through a Reddit post that one of my friends was dead in the water for HOURS through the night at @okeechobeefest despite people apparently calling for help and searching for him, only to be found in rigor mortis that morning is disgusting.”
Three days after the event has come to a close, Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival has issued a statement. The post reads, “We are saddened by the passing of one OMF attendee this past weekend. We send our deepest condolences to this individual’s loved ones, friends, and all of those who have been impacted by this tragic loss. Out of respect to those affected by this tragedy, we have refrained from commenting prematurely. We will continue to provide our full support to the authorities, who are determining the cause.”
The festival continues, “During this emotional time, we encourage the festival to come together in memory of this beautiful individual. As we continue to make sense of this heartbreaking incident, we encourage you to support and take good care of one another.”
The comments section of the post is filled with both support and more backlash. One Instagram user said, “People are responsible for their own well being and friend circles should be looking after each other, AND Insomniac should provide more services around safety for attendees. Better safeguards, security, ways to combat the elements, etc. it’s a terrible loss. However for the amount of cash flow this event brings there is no excuse for cutting costs by decreasing med stations and life guards.”
GRiZ, one of the artists who played at Okeechobee, also released a statement. However, the DJ referenced “multiple confirmed deaths,” although, at this time, Okeechobee Festival and the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office have only mentioned one apparent passing at the event.
This story is still developing. Our hearts are heavy for those affected by this tragedy.