Foul play ruled out in death of 21-year-old man at Pemberton Music Festival

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) says foul play has been ruled out after a man died at the Pemberton Music Festival Friday night.

Investigators were calling the death ‘suspicious’ but results have shown that is not the case.

The victim has been identified as a 21-year-old Nick Phongsavath of Regina.

21-year old Nick Phongsavath
21-year old Nick Phongsavath.

“As a result of evidence found at the scene, witness statements and the autopsy completed on Nick Phongsavath, it has been determined that Foul play is not a contributing factor in his death,” said S/Sgt. Jennifer Pound.

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This investigation is no longer staying within the IHIT teams and has now been transitioned back to the Sea-to-Sky Detachment.

Additional testing is being undertaken by the BC Coroners Service to confirm both the cause and manner of Phongsavath’s death and to identify any contributory factors. The BC Coroners Service confirms there is no risk to the public related to the death.

Pound said he was found dead in his tent, just after 6:00 p.m.

IHIT released the following statement on behalf of the Phongsavath family:

“We would like to thank the IHIT team, the Whistler and Pemberton RCMP, Victim Services, and representatives from the Pemberton Music Festival for allowing us to have closure and supporting us through our journey to Pemberton, our time here, and making it easier for us to deal with this tragedy.  We would like to thank all of our friends and family for their continued support and would like to ask the media to respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Pound urged attendees to contact their families to let them know they are OK.

Laura Peniuk, a festival volunteer was camping with her 16-year-old son at a campsite adjacent to where the death occurred.

“We’re obviously just pretty freaked out,” said Peniuk. “We were just sitting at the campsite and my son had come over and said somebody had died.”

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Peniuk said she’s worried about her son’s safety and is thinking about cutting her trip short and heading back home to Surrey.

“I want nothing more than to get him out of here.”

Crime scene. Credit: Imgur.

A statement from the Pemberton Music Festival said, “we are deeply saddened by the tragic incident.”  It went on to note the festival, “was created in the spirit of community and friendship…we remind everyone to look after their neighbours, report any concerns to security and help continue to make our event a safe and positive experience for everyone.”

The festival was resurrected after a six year hiatus.

The massive festival attracted 40,000 people in 2008, but the event was plagued with overcrowded campsites, a shortage of supplies and roads that turned into parking lots.

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Pound said conducting the investigation within a concert venue has its difficulties. “It’s a very large area to work with…there’s about 20,000 people in attendance.  It’s dynamic which makes it difficult to sustain individuals that may be witnesses, that may have information.”

IHIT asked people with information to contact them.



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