21 Dead in Chicago Nightclub

  1. CHICAGO (Feb. 17) - A disturbance at a crowded night club early Monday set off a mad scramble for the exits that left 21 people dead and many more injured, authorities said. There were more than 1,500 people in the two-story Epitome Night Club when someone released pepper spray or Mace into the air some time after 2 a.m., Fire Commander Will Knight said.

    ``It appears a disturbance from within led to a mass chaos where people headed for the door. Most of the fatalities appear to have been crushed or had injuries due to suffocation,'' said police Officer Ozzie Rodriguez.

    ``Everybody smashed; people crying, couldn't breath,'' said Reggie Clark, who was at the club. ``Two ladies next to me died. A guy under me passed out.''

    At least 21 people are confirmed dead, Chicago Police spokesman Pat Camden said Monday.

    Several witnesses described the crush as people tried to rush out through the club's narrow exit.

    Cory Thomas, 33, of Chicago went to the club about 3 a.m. to pick up two friends. As he waited outside, he saw people inside the club start to back up against the glass front door.

    ``You could see a mound of people. People were stacking on top of each other, screaming and gagging, I guess from the pepper spray. The door got blocked because there were too many people stacked up against it.''

    ``I saw them taking out a pregnant woman,'' Thomas said. ``She was in bad shape. I saw at least 10 lifeless bodies.''

    Thomas said that when the fire department arrived, they cut a chain on a side door so that people could get out. ``The front door was the only way out of there,'' he said.

    Kristy Mitchell, 22, of Gary, Ind., was one of the people trampled on the stairway.

    ``People were stomping my legs,'' she said. ``When they pulled me up, I was dizzy and I couldn't breathe,''

    Fire Department officials said the total number of injuries was unclear because many of those with minor injuries were being taken to hospitals by family and friends.

    Knight said 19 people were in cardiac arrest when emergency workers arrived at the club. Many of them were revived, but four were declared dead at the scene, he said.

    02/17/03 08:31 EST

    Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
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  3. by   Shevalove
    OH!! That is terrible!
  4. by   emily_mom
    Was just reading about in on Yahoo right now. Some friends of mine have been there. Said it was really cool....
  5. by   Mkue
    That is terrible, hope they find the cause of the disturbance.
  6. by   chicagonurse
    God I hope I don't know anyone who was there. This is just terrible.
  7. by   Stargazer
    Is that even legal, to have only one non-blocked entrance/exit? Sounds like some firecodes weren't being followed.
  8. by   renerian
    Wow that is horrible.

  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    they found the cause. Two women catfighting...security sprays pepper spray. crowd freaks, runs for locked door at bottom of stairs. ....those at bottom get crushed by those rushing down behind them. sad, horribly story. i want to know why the Heck that door was locked. THAT has to be fire code violation somewhere. It was needless, really, and a big reason I hate crowds.
  10. by   ava'smomRN
    that is unbelievable. one of the main reasons i don't go to nightclubs or bars!
  11. by   MidwifeWannaB
    Ok, what I want to know is why did BOUNCERS have to use pepper spray on WOMEN fighting?!? Ummmm.....they must have really sucky bouncers at that club. Either that or lazy. The whole situation just pisses me off.

    Oh, and also, what was a pregnant woman doing at a nightclub? All that cigarette smoke (among other things) at those places isn't good for anyone, let alone that poor child she's carrying.