published Monday, June 14th, 2010

Heat probed in Bonnaroo death

MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- The heat, an issue with Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival revelers since they began arriving Thursday morning, may have been a factor in the death of a man at the festival, according to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves.

Sheriff Graves said rescue personnel performed CPR on the unidentified man early Saturday morning before transporting him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"There were no signs of any physical injuries, but we will wait on the autopsy," he said.

Sheriff Graves said this festival, the ninth, has suffered from an unusually bad combination of high heat and high humidity.

"It's been different because the heat index has been extremely high," he said. "We've had a lot of medical issues this year."

Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment, co-producers of the festival, was unaware of the death when contacted, but expressed sadness over the news.

"That is so sad," he said. "I had not heard about that."

He said his team has been reminding festivalgoers to hydrate throughout the four-day event.

Bonnaroo has dealt with high heat and thunderstorms in the past, but the timing of this year's storm, which dumped almost 2 inches of rain on the 700-acre site on Wednesday night, presented new problems. The heavy rains turned the grounds into a soggy mess, and raised the humidity factor, in addition to causing delays in getting campers into the festival and forcing certain campsites to be reconfigured because of standing water.

"The heavy rains presented a challenge, but we recovered from that pretty quickly," Mr. Capps said. "I think it went extremely well. It did impact the amount of usable space, but by Thursday afternoon, we were on track. From an operational front, it went very smoothly.

"We have people who are not only the very best at what they do, but who do love what they do and what we are doing."

First-time attendee Charlie Brock said he came to the festival with his college-age daughter and had a certain level of apprehension about what he might find. He found an event that not only has appealed to her, but him as well.

"I worried about her, but she has been fine and I have been amazed by the quality of the music," he said. "It's been a lot of fun, and if I were a college-aged person, this would be the perfect place. I'd come every year."

Continue reading more Bonnaroo 2010 coverage.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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