Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Concert-goer dies after falling at Sangamon Auditorium show

A Petersburg man injured Sunday night after falling a total of 25 feet in an area beneath the stage at the University of Illinois Springfield's Sangamon Auditorium has died.

Audience member John Kremitzki, 51, was pronounced dead at 12:18 p.m. Monday at Memorial Medical Center, the Sangamon County coroner's office announced Tuesday. An autopsy conducted Tuesday indicated that Kremitzki died from "blunt force" injuries related to the fall, Coroner Cinda Edwards said. Foul play isn't suspected. "I think it was a pure accident," Edwards said.

During an intermission of a performance of Brit Floyd, a Pink Floyd tribute show, Kremitzki, who had been sitting in the pit area with other audience members in front of the stage, fell to his knees, UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said.

According to witnesses, Kremitzki tried to stand up and stumbled forward toward the stage's front, then "rolled through an opening in front of the stage," Schnapp said. A male audience member who was sitting near Kremitzki tried to help and went through the opening after him, Schnapp said.

The State Journal-Register confirmed that the name of the man trying to help was Greg Hoffman, a Springfield resident. "The two dropped approximately five feet, onto a ledge area beneath the stage," Schnapp said. "A third audience member followed them onto the ledge area to assist."

Kremitzki, who "appeared to be in distress," rolled off the ledge and, with the first audience member who followed him, fell about 20 feet "into a deeper space beneath the stage," Schnapp said. Edwards said Kremitzki had "some underlying medical issues" that she didn't describe. But she said the autopsy showed that Kremitzki apparently wasn't having a heart attack or stroke at the time of the incident. The third audience member remained on the ledge and called for help, Schnapp said. 

Kremitzki and the audience member who fell with him were transported by ambulance to the hospital, Schnapp said.

The UIS Police Department is handling the investigation, Schnapp said. "The entire Sangamon Auditorium family was saddened by the tragic accident on Sunday night," Sangamon Auditorium director Bob Vaughn said in a statement Tuesday. "We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of John Kremitzki," Vaughn said. "We also extend profound gratitude to the first responders and those in the audience who did all they could to help Mr. Kremitzki. Our staff is cooperating fully with medical and law enforcement professionals to determine what happened and to ensure a positive experience for all of our guests."

This story was published in The State-Journal Register on March 28, 2017.

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