Australia “This is you dying”: Falls crush victim out of work, waiting for compo

18:21  10 january  2017
18:21  10 january  2017 Source:   ABC News

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As far as festival comedowns go, 22-year-old Maddy didn’t expect to be recovering from Falls Festival for three months.

“I was screaming until I couldn’t anymore because the air was crushed out of my lungs.” She said she bit someone near her to grab their attention so she could be pulled up before blacking out . “I just remember going, ‘ this is it, this is death. This is you dying .’ And then I blacked out .” Maddy now faces three months of work while her black eyes - which are filled with blood - and a bone in her pelvis heals. The young woman said she feels “hopeless” and is yet to receive any offer of compensation from the organisers. " This is you dying ": Falls festival crush victim out of work , waiting for compo

Maddy, who was seriously hurt as she struggled to breathe in the massive human crush at the Lorne Falls Festival on December 30, is facing a three-month recovery and feels © Provided by ABC News Maddy, who was seriously hurt as she struggled to breathe in the massive human crush at the Lorne Falls Festival on December 30, is facing a three-month recovery and feels "hopeless and useless" as her bills start to pile up. As far as festival comedowns go, 22-year-old Maddy didn’t expect to be recovering from Falls Festival for three months. 

But after being one of the 19 people hospitalised following a massive human crush at the Lorne festival on December 30, Maddy’s preparing to spend her summer on crutches and out of work.

Here’s what happened to Maddy when going from the DMAs set to London Grammar at Falls.

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“I remember letting go of my friends hand when I fell,” Maddy told Hack. “I fell over the girls who had fallen down, and I kind of flipped and went on my back and started getting dragged along the ground.

"That’s when panic set in - I started screaming.

“People just started piling on top of me. I was still moving until it wasn’t possible for me to move myself. I don’t know how many people were on top of me but I was at the very bottom.

“I was screaming until I couldn’t anymore because the air was crushed out of my lungs.

“I remember telling myself, ‘go up for air, go up for air’, but I couldn’t move at all. It wasn’t painful being crushed, it was more painful not being able to breathe.

“I couldn’t move any limbs and my head was to the side facing down. There were legs next to me and I remember biting someone to try and get them to pull me up

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It looked like something out of a bizarre 50's prom.

"I just remember going, ‘this is it, this is death. This is you dying.’ And then I blacked out.”

In a statement, Falls festival apologised for what happened and detailed their emergency strategy following the incident.

“With over 20 years of experience running festivals behind us, we are completely devastated by the crowd crush that occurred with patrons exiting The Grand Theatre, and we are beyond shattered that a number of our festival patrons were injured and impacted by this event.”

There are a number of investigations underway about what happened on December 30. WorkSafe Victoria are conducting one that will look specifically at whether the festival broke rules and regulations around site design and safety procedures.

But it could be ages before we find out for sure. WorkSafe has two years to finish the investigation, though they have told Hack that most investigations are completed within six months.

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Maddy was soon taken to Geelong Hospital where she found out she had fractured her sacrum - a bone in the pelvis.

"I’ve also got two beautiful black eyes. There still aren’t any whites in my eyes - it’s just blood.” Meanwhile, despite leaving phone numbers for festival officials to contact her parents, Maddy’s family didn’t know what had happened.

“They said they’d contacted everybody, but they didn’t.”

Without her phone, Maddy couldn’t call them either - until the following day when she rang her mum from hospital.

Maddy’s recovery will take up to 3 months where she will use crutches to move around. She can’t work shifts at her casual retail job where she has to be on her feet all day.

Maddy’s mum has taken a week off work to care for her at home, and Maddy doesn’t expect to start earning money and working again until she can use both legs.

“I feel hopeless and useless. I have to ask my mum for everything, and I hate it - I want to be able to do it myself.

“It’s pissing me off.”

Now 11 days after the crush, Falls festival is yet to offer Maddy compensation. The organisers have been in contact with Maddy's parents.

“There’s talk of potential ticket refunds or paying medical bills, but there hasn’t been any promises yet,” Maddy says, but she’s sympathetic toward the organisers and the big task at hand.

There’s so many people caught up in it that are so far worse off than I am. So they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them.”

A class action lawsuit against the festival is aiming to gather crush victims - but Maddy’s unsure if she’ll join, as it’s difficult to square the blame on anybody.

“I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to blame one thing, one person. Because then you could be blaming the people that pushed me, or the DMAs for being so popular.

“But [the festival] does have duty of care. At the end of the day they do have a responsibility.”

Maddy hopes to hear from the festival organisers again soon - hopefully before bills from her trips to the physio start piling up.

“I’m not angry. I’m just here, in my room, waiting. And I’ll be here in my room for another 3 months.”

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