VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. – More than a dozen people, including underage teens, were taken to the hospital late Saturday night after they became sick during a massive outdoor party, officials said.
According to Miami Fire Rescue, the annual Miami Cooler Wet Fete held in Virginia Key brought out an estimated 5,000 people, way over the venue's capacity. "Wet Fete is a foam party, it's a water party," said reveler Christine Amos. "You get wet. You get really wet."
Rescue crews responding to the scene found the victims passed out. "We found these people unconscious, and we had more people running to us and telling us [there were more victims]," said Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll. "Some of the issues are alcohol-related, some [are] illegal substance abuse, and some even [got] injured as a result of climbing around in the [Miami] Marine Stadium."
Paramedics took the victims to various area hospitals in the overnight hours. "Something's going around," said Kurtis, who attended the event. "I don't know what it is, but ... there's too many people, like, getting transported out on a stretcher."
Carroll said the excessive crowd numbers might have played a role in causing the event to spiral out of control. "This was an event that was supposed to have so many people, and it obviously escalated into several thousand people," he said.
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Officials said the event, which advertised for partygoers to bring their own coolers with beverages, did not have any police presence. "And it appeared to be unsupervised; no police, no fire department presence to begin with," said Miami Fire Rescue Capt. David Duthil.
Officials said Miami Cooler Wet Fete took place on the outside lot of a local restaurant. The owners said they rented out the lot to a promoter, but indicated they do not have any affiliation to the event.
The party is linked to the website Carib-Unity.com, which calls the event an annual ritual that has "water slides, foam pits, water balloons, water guns and unlimited water."
On Sunday, people who frequent the area were shocked to see the mess left behind from the summertime party. "We came in here this morning, the trash was a foot deep," said area resident Robert Kesmodel. "Broken bottles, liquor bottles, beer bottles, just trash everywhere."
"This is disgusting," said area resident Daryl Johnson. "How could anybody have a facility, a public facility, and let this happen in a public facility? It's outrageous."
As of Sunday night, the event's promoter had not returned 7News' calls for comment.
Police are investigating.
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