Coroner Investigation Begins In Big Day Out Deathh

Australian police are appealing to others who were in the moshpit during the Jan. 26 Sydney stop on the Big Day Out tour to come forward, as they begin preparing a report for the coroner on the death

Australian police are appealing to others who were in the moshpit during the Jan. 26 Sydney stop on the Big Day Out tour to come forward, as they begin preparing a report for the coroner on the death of a 15-year old girl. The girl, now identified as Jessica Michalik from the suburb of Dee Why, suffered a heart attack after being caught in the surge of the 55,000-strong crowd as Limp Bizkit took the stage.

Blaming the tragedy on the failure of promoters to implement their suggested security plan, Limp Bizkit abruptly left the tour following the incident and flew back to the United States. A statement issued Wednesday by the band read, in part, "We are devastated that Jessica died and really nothing can describe the sadness and anguish we're feeling. The loss of her life will impact ours forever."

Ryan Keogh, who was in the moshpit, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that he'd seen the girl fall as the crowd pushed their way to the front of the stage. "She was still conscious, she was screaming," he said. "I put my hand out and started to pull her up but the crowd barreled forward and I went down."

The girl's parents have also revealed that Alex McLeod of Limp Bizkit's management team was in touch with them from the United States on a daily basis. In the first few days Michalik was in the hospital, McLeod told her that the band were intending to fly her and some of her friends to Los Angeles to hang out.

But five days after the accident, doctors told her parents, Barbara and George Michalik, that their only child had suffered brain damage, and they agreed to turn off the life-support system. In the wake of the shock, the parents have reportedly decided to split up, and Barbara Michalik plans to return to her native Poland alone.

Big Day Out promoters Ken West and Vivian Lees of Creative Entertainment have offered their symptahies, but have declined to further comment on the tragedy until the police investigation is complete.

But they issued an angry press release today (Feb. 2) in the wake of claims in newspapers by Big Day Out's former security advisor, Andrew Tantrai of Australian Concert & Entertainment Security, who says he resigned after organizers repeatedly rejected calls to boost safety measures.

West and Lees say that Tantrai, a six year employee, was sacked in 1996 after he was instrumental in trying to stage a rival festival, and not for security reasons. "The actions, procedures, and implementation of safety measures at the Big Day Out 2001 have been approved and commended by every public authority including police, St. John's [hospital], and all relevant council and occupational health officers."

The tragedy has apparently encouraged Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst to reach out to his fans via the band's official Web site. In one post, he wrote, "we pulled out of the Big Day Out shows because a girl died at our show because of shitty security. We told the [Big Day Out] security to make it better and they said to piss off. Two shows later a girl died, a Limp Bizkit fan. That's bullshit. We'll go back to Australia on our own terms with our own security."

In another, he said, "I read so much horseshit in magazines and see so many bullshit reports on every source of media that I can't believe people are so adiment [sic] about dogging Limp Bizkit. Take this as a lesson to learn from and that is that no matter what you do in life to make yourself happy and to be yourself."

Durst also reports that he ventured into the site's chatroom for the first time. "I am stoked," he wrote. "Yeah, a lot of people we talking shit but at least they're being themselves. You people are fucking amazing and I am very grateful to have fans as devoted as you are!! Talk to you in the chat. I'll be in red under Fred Durst. Talk to me, cuss me out, joke with me, whatever. I'll be there."