Who’s to Blame for Tragic Death at EDC Las Vegas?

By 06.18.12

Emily McCaughan, a 22-year-old pre-med student at the University of Arizona, was found dead Monday June 11, 2012 after falling more than 20 stories onto the roof of the Circus Circus hotel in Las Vegas. McCaughan had been in Las Vegas attending Electric Daisy Carnival with friends where they had been taking MDMA pills known as ecstacy before the incident. Mignonne Walstad, the spokeswoman for the family, wanted everyone to know that drugs were responsible for Emily’s death and that she was not a regular drug user.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, McCaughan began to experience psychosis after taking ecstacy Sunday night and thought that a man was stalking her at the festival. Her friends alerted security at EDC who arranged transportation for McCaughan back to her hotel. The events upon her return are unknown at this time, with more information to be released following the police investigation.

Walstad contributed a statement to the LVRJ that describes the events following her return to Circus Circus Sunday night. Walstad says that Emily barricaded herself in the room, sent messages to friends begging for their return, removed the SIM card from her phone and then jumped off of the ledge to her death.

Emily McCaughan, 22-year-old pre-med student, dies after falling more than 20 stories from her hotel window. Image via FACEBOOK

The death of Emily McCaughan is a tragedy. Nothing will be able to bring her back or console the McCaughan family who feels Emily was cheated from the beautiful life that she deserved. The emotion of losing a child is unfathomable to me and for what it’s worth I empathize with them.

In issuing a statement decrying Emily’s drug use to defend her legacy, the family looks to place blame anywhere that they can. Blame the drugs, music, Insomniac, Circus Circus or friends. Blame everyone reading this article for creating a culture that lead to her death. However in a situation like this where the outcome could have been avoided, where does the blame fall? Drugs kill people. Music makes people want drugs. Insomniac hosted the rave. Circus Circus needed to check on her. The friends shouldn’t have let her go alone.

Let’s stop blaming all of the parties and look at what really happened. A 22-year-old adult chose to take an illegal substance at Insomniac’s Event on her own free will. This illegal substance caused her hallucinate and she needed to be removed from the situation. McCaughan’s friends contacted security at EDC and security arranged for transportation back to her hotel. Her friends did not go with her.

Answer this question.

You’re at a party with a 100,000 people in an unknown city. Your friend is hallucinating about a stalker chasing them. Your attempts to calm them down fail.

Do you….

A.) Go back with them to the hotel and possibly seek medical attention
B.) Put a hallucinating person in a cab by themselves in an unknown city

It took her friends an hour to get back from EDC to the hotel. By the time they had arrived she was missing and already dead. McCaughan was in such a severe state that within a one hour period, the 22 year-old pre-med student decided to kill herself.

Without the influence of drugs Emily McCaughan would still be alive. But drugs are already illegal. As prohibition and the failed drug war have proven, additional enforcement or laws do not curb consumption. McCaughan death wasn’t an overdose. She needed help and was abandoned by those she trusted.

What should have happened.

McCaughan’s friends go back with her to the hotel and take her to the emergency room. Emily is forced to make an awkward phone call home explaining why she’s staying in the ER and not Circus Circus.

I’m not writing this to try and influence your decisions or make you a champion for the drug free movement. But as you travel to different festivals and events this summer, just be mindful and conscious of what’s going on around you. Share some love.



  • A second death has been confirmed as a man was struck by a vehicle leaving the festival Monday morning died from his injuries Saturday at a Las Vegas hospital.
  • The official statement from Erika Raney of EDC, “We are deeply saddened by the two tragedies that occurred last week in Las Vegas outside Electric Daisy Carnival. The two tragedies occurred beyond the festival’s walls as well as beyond Insomniac’s control and these incidents will not threaten the future of EDC in Las Vegas.”
  • All Insomniac festivals have a zero-tolerance policy against drugs and a strictly enforced policy barring those under the age of 18 from entering.

TAGSedcelectric daisy carnivalelectronicaLas Vegasmusic festivals

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