(SALT LAKE CITY, Utah) — Nine 20-year-olds were charged with violating coronavirus restrictions after police said they organized a massive lakeside party last Halloween in Utah County, a COVID-19 hot spot in the Beehive State with high transmission rates among young adults.
That event ended with one serious injury and several car crashes, authorities said.
Social media posts from the October party showed approximately 10,000 high school and college-aged revelers without masks in a closely packed space. The party included a stage, lights, and a DJ.
Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced during a Monday virtual press conference that the party organizers faced class B misdemeanor charges for violating a state health order, according to local station KUTV 2News. Those charges could result in a fine of up to $10,000 each. The health order requires face masks to be worn in public, and it limits social gatherings to 10 people. The Utah County Health Department also imposed civil penalties against two event-planning companies (The Tribe Utah and Young/Dumb).
“Our estimates of nearly 10,000 people at the event represent a real danger to the health and safety of our county and our state,” Leavitt said during the press conference.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office responded to an anonymous tip of a gathering on Halloween night with about 100 people. When authorities arrived, Sergeant Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said there were already thousands in attendance.
“We probably would not have gone in to make contact, except for the fact that a woman was not getting crowd surfed but, rather, crowd tossed,” Cannon told The Click. “The woman landed on her head and was seriously injured. We had to make room for the medical response to treat her and get her to the hospital.”
Cannon noted attendees were cooperative and helped clear traffic. However, there were half a dozen car crashes as people left.
The Tribe Utah organizers were not available for immediate comment. However, the company started a GoFundMe to pay for legal fees and fines.