Death At Pemberton Fest

Authorities in rural British Columbia are investigating the death of a 21-year-old man whose body was found in a tent July 18 during the Pemberton Music Festival.


Police called Nick Phongsavath’s death suspicious and locked down the area to allow an Integrated Homicide Investigation Team investigation. The lockdown meant some other campers in the area were displaced, and the fest stepped in to help accommodate them.

In a statement, Pemberton Festival extended its condolences, noting “the safety of our attendees is always our primary concern. We have significant security resources on-site including security personnel, RCMP, customer service representatives and a full medical team. We are also providing on-site counseling services for all guests and staff.

“We are providing food, water, shelter and clothing to the fifty-five campers displaced by this incident. We further appreciate the cooperation and understanding of these festival attendees during this time. All of the affected campers are expected to be able to return to their campsites tonight.”

The death cast a slight shadow over the festival, which was expected to make a triumphant return with a new promoter, HUKA Entertainment, after a six-year hiatus from its inaugural year.

The fest noted police would continue to investigate the incident and were “confident that this was an isolated incident and that the festival site is safe and well organized. With the support of the RCMP, we will continue with the Pemberton Music Festival. We hope that the festival community will come together and keep Mr. Phongsavath’s loved ones in their thoughts during this difficult time.”

Logistically, the revamped festival was deemed a success, compared with the 2008 edition produced by Live Nation that was tested by major traffic jams on the single-lane Sea-to-Sky Highway between Vancouver and Pemberton.

The Vancouver Sun praised Pemberton Festival’s low traffic thanks to a new set of road exits and shuttles between Whistler and Pemberton, grass maintenance, which helped with dust issues, and an efficient five-stage layout on the site.

Acts taking the stage during the festival included Deadmau5Nine Inch NailsOutkastFrank OceanSnoop Dogg, and The Flaming Lips.