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Halloween party in Utah County shut down; Organizers could face charges

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Posted at 1:46 PM, Nov 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 00:53:37-05

UTAH COUNTY — Thousands of people attended a Halloween party at the Knolls near Utah Lake Saturday night, according to Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

One young woman was transported to the hospital after a crowd surfing incident, and multiple people were involved in car accidents. The party was shut down because the event organizers did not have a permit for the large-scale event, Sgt. Cannon said. The organizers may face charges.

Life Flight was initially called for the crowd surfing incident after a woman was dropped and became unconscious. It was later canceled, and she was transported by ambulance, Sgt. Cannon said. An event volunteer told FOX13 News the woman is out of the hospital and doing OK.

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Covid flying through the party like @thetribeutah

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Deputies were called around 10 p.m. and it took a few hours to fully shut down the party, Sgt. Cannon said. Event organizers said they decided to pull the plug after the girl was injured so police and paramedics could get through. Organizers cooperated with deputies, Sgt. Cannon said.

“Crowd tossing would probably be a better way to describe it. And the tossing side hadn’t communicated well with the receiving side and she ended up landing on her head and received a pretty serious laceration and was unconscious for at least a period of time,” he said.

The organizers and those in attendance posted videos that were shared both on Utah Tonight and The Tribe Utah’s Instagram pages. The groups claim 10,000 people showed up for the party but no group is claiming responsibility for the event.

Videos show thousands of people close together dancing without masks on.

(WARNING: Language in video below may be offensive)

Utah County is considered to be in High Transmission level of COVID-19, as the state deals with its highest COVID-19 cases yet. This means masks are required and gatherings are to be limited to 10 people per public health order.

Videos posted on social media from The Tribe Utah show setup of the event and graphics at the event that say ‘Protest on Halloween.’ People on social media tagged The Tribe Utah and Utah Tonight, the original organizers of the event, and the two pages also shared several photos and videos from the event.

Close to a dozen organizers through The Tribe Utah are responsible for the event, Sgt. Cannon said.

Karson Jensen, an event volunteer and content creator, told FOX 13 that The Tribe Utah was not the host of the event, but instead the event was organized by several individuals who volunteered their time.

“There was no Protest on Halloween, there was nothing else. There was simply a gathering between people who have the means to do so,” he said.

The event was never publicly advertised and about 300 fliers were sent through private messages on social media, Jensen said.

“Unfortunately, with the spreading of this news of this gathering, thousands upon thousands of people began to flock out there so they could enjoy their Halloween, so they had somewhere to go,” he said.

Hear his full comments here:

Event volunteer speaks on Utah County Halloween party

The Utah Tonight Instagram page told FOX 13 News this was not the ‘Protest on Halloween’ event.

“We technically didn’t have anything to do with the gathering that took place last night. It was organized by a bunch of individuals who came together and made it happen. No money was exchanged. We aren’t taking interviews at the moment. The Protest on Halloween was indeed canceled in its entirety,” a spokesperson for the page said.

The Utah Tonight Instagram page asked people to not get tested for COVID-19.

“Getting tested simply provides the mob with more ammunition to control our lives,” the post read in part.

Organizers of the ‘Protest on Halloween’ Halloween party, Utah Tonight, posted on social media that the event was canceled last week.

The news of cancellation was well received by many leaders and health officials:

“Hosting a large scale social event such as what was being advertised goes directly against the guidelines in the COVID-19 Transmission Index. Canceling is absolutely the right decision,” a spokesperson for the Utah County Health Department said last week.

When asked about the party in early October before organizers claimed it was going to be canceled, Gov. Gary Herbert said: “We call upon all Utahns to be responsible and abide by state and county rules and guidelines for gatherings. An event such as this one is impermissible under the current rules. We expect local authorities to vigorously enforce flagrant violations of health orders.”

Sunday, Gov. Herbert’s office released the following statement regarding the party:

“Data consistently shows that social gatherings are a main source of COVID-19 infections. It’s very difficult to give up time with family and friends - but Utahns who put others lives and health ahead of their own desire to maintain a lively social life, or even gather with extended family, are heroic. The reality of COVID-19 has already hit many Utahns who have lost loved ones to the disease, as well as many others who are experiencing the lasting effects of COVID-19 on their heart or lungs. The virus is all too real and terrifying for the medical professionals working overtime."

All large-scale events must be approved by the county health department and organizers must apply for a permit. This did not happen, Sgt. Cannon said. The organizers may face charges for that reason.

The Utah County Health Department responded with the following statement to FOX 13:

"We echo the statement made by the Governor’s Office today.
"As we struggle in our local and state-wide communities to contain the COVID-19 virus and mitigate its impacts on our communities, it is unfortunate that some would ignore public health and medical guidance and plan and participate in an event that would allow for the ready spread of the disease between individuals which can then be taken back by these individuals to our communities and infect others who are trying to follow public health and medical recommendations.
"The organizers of the Halloween Protest are encouraging the direct opposite of public health and medical guidance. They claim to want to get life “back to normal”. Their actions and the actions they are encouraging will cause a further increase in COVID-19 cases and push the time of “back to normal” that much further away.
"The actions of the organizers and attendees are dangerous to themselves, our communities, our healthcare system, and our efforts to combat COVID-19.
"We strongly encourage all who attended the event to monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested if symptoms present.
"We are grateful for the vast majority of our citizens who are striving to protect themselves and their fellow citizens by adhering to the health guidance.
"We continue to urge all citizens to stay home when ill, practice social/physical distancing, practice good personal hygiene, wear masks/face coverings in public settings where physical distancing is difficult, and to avoid large gatherings. Please seek out testing, as directed."

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Utah, click here.