The Who concert tragedy: 35-year anniversary - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

The Who concert tragedy: 35-year anniversary

Piles of lost shoes captured in the aftermath of the deadly incident. (FOX19 File photo) Piles of lost shoes captured in the aftermath of the deadly incident. (FOX19 File photo)
CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Wednesday marks 35 years since 11 concert-goers were tragically killed while waiting to see The Who at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley joined the victims' families in lighting 11 lanterns Wednesday on the plaza of U.S. Bank Arena, the former location of the Coliseum. 

"Within a year we will have a memorial here permanently marking the history," Cranley said.

Thousands of festival seating ticket-holders were gathered outside the Coliseum on Dec. 3, 1979 when The Who began a late sound check around 7 p.m. Thinking the concert had started, crowds pushed towards the closed Coliseum doors, leading to a deadly stampede.

"I was 17. I was a junior in high school.  It was a very chaotic scene," Michael Babb said, who was at the concert.

11 people were killed by asphyxiation and 26 others were injured.

"I made my way out one way or another. Kind of don't remember every detail about it, but I kind of don't want to,” said Bob Vater, who saw the stampede.

Vater was there with a girlfriend and some others. On Wednesday night, he stood by and watched a candle was lit for his friend, David Heck, who was killed when the crowd pushed to the door.

"He was helping other people, and in the midst of it, people just kept snowballing on top of each other and there was no way for him to get back up,” Vater said.

Wednesday night's vigil is hosted by Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation and will begin at 7 p.m.

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