A 55-year-old man from San Francisco choked to death on a hot dog during a Little River Band and Don Felder concert at Ironstone Amphitheatre in Murphys on Saturday night.
“We are shocked and saddened. This is terrible. It has never happened before and we pray to God it never happens again,” said Billy Cohen, vice president of Richter Entertainment Group, the promoter for Ironstone Amphitheatre.
Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio identified the victim as Mark Chamberlin. The cause of death was determined to be an obstruction in the man’s airway, Raggio said.
The man also sustained an injury to his face due to a fall.
The man was pronounced dead by medical officials on scene.
The emergency occurred in the general admission area, where people had set up blankets and lawn chairs.
Murphys Fire Protection Division Chief Michael Murray said fire officials attempted to perform CPR on the victim.
An Ebbetts Pass Fire District ambulance drove onto the lawn before 10 p.m. led by event staff who cleared the concrete walkway from the stage with flashlights. The ambulance was followed by a handful of uniformed Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Cohen said EMT officials at Ironstone were the first to provide medical aid to the victim within two minutes of the report. He said he did not know how long the man was choking before the report was made.
Cohen said the emergency crews responded about 20 minutes after the EMTs. Cohen said it was initially believed that the man suffered a heart attack.
Five Murphys Fire Protection District employees responded. A second ambulance that responded belonged to the American Legion, Murray said.
Murray said he dispatched the call, but did not arrive at the scene until after officials were performing CPR.
The victim was placed on a gurney and put inside the ambulance within 10 minutes of its arrival.
Cohen said officials discussed canceling the show during the incident, but opted to let it continue to avoid hysteria or vehicle congestion.
Approximately 3,500 people were in attendance at the show and several hundred were working, Cohen said.
Cohen said the staff would review safety processes in response to the death, but emphasized that the medical apparatus on site responded just as they were trained to do.
Cohen said this the first death he was aware of at an Ironstone Amphitheatre concert.
The venue is operated by Ironstone Vineyards, a winery just adjacent to the venue.
A blue, short-sleeved, button-down uniform featuring a silver badge was removed by one the firefighters during the medical call and was either lost or stolen at the scene, Murray added.
Murray said two of the firefighters removed their uniforms while giving aid to Chamberlin because they were overheating.
One of the uniforms was returned to Murray by venue staff, but one uniform could not be found after the scene cleared, he said.
The department was concerned the item was stolen and the possibility that a civilian could attempt to impersonate emergency personnel, he said.
“We have a good reputation and we try to maintain professionalism, so if some yahoo is running around in one of our uniforms it’s going to be associated with us and were going to catch flak for it,” he said.
He added, “If they want a uniform that bad they can join us and we would be happy to train them and then issue them one.”