[Editor's note: Daniel Hill and Drew Ailes are covering the Gathering of the Juggalos in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois.]
Daniel Hill The now-closed "drug bridge"
The Gathering of the Juggalos' infamous "drug bridge" is closed today, following reports of a fatal overdose. Ambulances were on the scene at Cave-in-Rock, Illinois around 2 p.m. local time, according to witnesses. The substance involved is believed to be heroin. The person's name and sex is not yet known.
Since the incident, the bridge -- which is basically an open air free-for-all market for recreational drugs -- has been closed for business, with two semi-trucks parked to block its access. There have been numerous reports of overdoses throughout the first few days; according to a police officer we spoke to, there were 10 just yesterday, but none yet fatal.
Jason Webber, director of public relations for Psychopathic Records, which puts on the Gathering, tells us he heard rumors of the death, but they were not official and he could not verify them. "I can't talk about that on the record," Webber says.
Nate "Igor" Smith Comedian Hannibal Buress and others on the drug bridge in 2010
Elsewhere, security and staff seem to be aware of the illegal activity. Just yesterday, we saw Insane Clown Posse member Violent Jay driving across the bridge himself in a golf cart, while dealers selling a litany of drugs openly peddled their wares.
Security searches for contraband were performed on all cars passing onto the grounds upon arrival. Mike Wilson, a security guard now tasked with preventing people from walking onto the drug bridge, tells us he heard reports that someone had died, but does not have details.
"We stopped a few people from bringing things in," he says, "One guy had a lot of drugs. He was a drug dealer or something and had no business being here."
In regards to the open drug use on the grounds, Wilson concedes: "I have had to look the other way a few times, but mostly these kids are just having fun. No one is violent or even rude."
"These are all real good kids out here," Wilson continues. "It's a shame."
We will update this post with more information as it comes in.
Drew Ailes contributed to the reporting of this story.
By Daniel Hill