Woman killed by runaway truck at West Virginia music festival
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MASONTOWN, W.Va. -- In an instant Sunday morning, all was not good at the All Good Music Festival in Masontown.
People were still asleep or just starting to wake up in tents and cars packed onto the sprawling concert grounds when a GMC pickup truck began rolling down a hill, out of control.
A man was in the driver's seat as the car careened forward 30 or 40 feet, striking at least 4 cars, several tents and coming to a stop at 8:48 a.m., when it rolled over three young women from Mount Pleasant, S.C., said Cpl. Rick Dotson of the Preston County sheriff's department.
Nicole Miller, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other women, Elizabeth Doran, 20, and Yen Ton, 21, were seriously injured and taken by helicopter to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. No update on their conditions was available.
The man in the vehicle was in his early 20s, but his name has not been released, Cpl. Dotson said. No charges have been filed, and the investigation is ongoing, he said.
Several hours after the incident, it still wasn't clear why the man had lost control of his vehicle and whether the women had been sleeping or if they had been inside or outside their tent at the time of the accident.
But on the concert stage, the music was still playing. About 30,000 people attended this year's 15th annual weekend concert, which ended Sunday.
Each year, people travel to the festival from all around the country to camp in the Allegheny Mountains and listen to more than 40 hours of live music from bands performing rock, bluegrass, electronic, jam, reggae and funk sets.
The hordes started arriving at the Marvin's Mountaintop campground site on Thursday. They parked their cars on most of the available grassy space, some on the sides of hills, and set up camp with tents and blankets.
One man sat on the grass, playing with his phone. The sound of sirens rushing to the women crushed by the truck a mile or so away from where he was sitting had awakened him, he said.
And now the man, who declined to give his name, was sitting next to his own car, which had just slid 20 feet down the hill it was parked on when the parking brake slipped. It came to a stop when it collided with a pickup truck. No one was hurt, and the man was sure both cars could drive away from the scene.
From his post, he couldn't hear the music playing, but up one hill and down another, shirtless men with dreadlocks and women in tie-dyed shirts swayed to the music in front of a large stage.
They were the stalwarts. By Sunday afternoon, thousands of cars were making their way out of the campground, down a windy gravel road turned into dust by the churning tires.
At a gas station, their cars marked with the gray dust from the road, many people were shocked to hear that a woman had died that morning at the festival, since the only way for news to spread is through word of mouth.
But a 20-year-old man who introduced himself as Taylur Snodgrass, of Shady Spring, W.Va., said he happened to be walking towards the scene shortly after the crash happened.
"People were running around flipping out, because I guess so many people were worried," he said.
He watched as paramedics pulled three women out from under the truck and said he saw one made a signal that a woman had already died.
Julie Bee, 37, of Baltimore, was by her tent near the main stage Sunday morning when she saw an ambulance and heard sirens. She heard what had happened, and later in the afternoon, she saw a truck towing the pickup truck, with a big dent in the front hood, and guessed it was likely the truck involved in the incident.
It was tragic, she said, but the rest of the festival was "all good."
And it was mostly uneventful. Officers with the sheriff's department said they had made some drug arrests and dealt with some traffic-control issues over the four-day event.
The All Good Music Festival released a statement saying it was "saddened" to hear about the incident and was working with the Preston County, W.Va., sheriff's department and other authorities.
"We extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to their family and loved ones," the statement said. "There also were two other individuals that suffered injuries in the incident and we wish them a speedy recovery."
The festival's Facebook page filled up Sunday evening with notes thanking the organizers for a fun weekend. Amid the notes about the good times, there were sympathies expressed for the people involved in the bad time.
First Published July 18, 2011 12:00 am