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Concert Tragedy Survivor Searches for Rescuers
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- Every December 3, Darrel Hutton and many others gather at the spot where people were killed while waiting to get into The Who concert at Riverfront Coliseum in 1979.
They light lanterns for the 11 people who died and say a prayer. 23 others were hurt.
Hutton was home on leave from the military that night and went to the concert.
"I didn't know whether it was a fight or whatever. I didn't know that people had died until two hours afterwards," he said.
Bob Vater was 18 and went to the concert with Dave Heck,19, and his girlfriend. Heck was suffocated as the crowd pushed to get in the doors.
Some said concert goers heard music playing and thought the concert had started, causing the crowd to become anxious and push to get inside.
Vater said he tried to help his friend.
"He was helping other people that had fallen and I couldn't help him it was all I could do to help my girlfriend get out of the crowd," Vater said.
That night, Tom Brown was a 17-year-old high school student. He carried an unconscious woman to safety and tossed her through a door. Brown said someone had thrown a Jack Daniel's bottle at one of the door's windows causing it to shatter. He said people tried to get in and opened a couple of doors. He found himself trapped in a doorway between a nightstick and fans pushing to get through the door.
"He put a night stick right in my throat and stopped me right in my tracks...they were trying to push us back out of the door so they could close it."
Brown believes two people saved his life that night.
"The people pushed, grabbed a hold of the night stick and pushed it forward so I that I could get my head out from the stick and the crowd because they were being pushed against me."
Brown has set up a Facebook page in an effort to find the people who helped him and to find the woman he carried to safety.
"I have no realistic expectation of finding them. But if I do, I just want to say thanks," Brown said.
Although 34 years have passed, in some ways it feels like The Who concert tragedy happened yesterday.
"It's hard. Sometimes it's very hard," Bob Vater said.
Some changes came out of what happened at The Who concert. Changes were made to crowd control protocols and festival seating ended at concerts in Cincinnati and other cities.
The Who played that night because band members had not been told people had died until after the show.