Paul Wertheimer has spent four decades trying to help prevent deadly crowd surges since a disaster at a concert by The Who changed his life.
Eleven young people, ages 15 to 27, died in a crowd crush at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum in 1979. “There were piles of shoes and clothing,” said Wertheimer, who responded to the scene as the city’s public information officer. “I couldn’t shake the feeling after studying this incident and being there.”
At the time, there were no federal regulations about crowd safety.
Fast-forward to 2021, and that hasn’t changed.
But the recent tragedy at Houston’s Astroworld Festival, which killed nine people ages 14 to 27, has renewed questions about whether national regulations are needed — and what can be done now to prevent another deadly crowd surge. There is no federal law on crowd safety. But the National Fire Protection Association’s 101 Life Safety Code is considered the gold standard, said Wertheimer.