The southwest Marriott Center stairs where the stampede occurred. (Caleb Hatch)

Stampede, injuries in BYU ROC line ahead of Gonzaga game

A stampede occurred at the base of the Marriott Center’s southwest stairs Friday as the ROC student section line formed for Saturday’s BYU men’s basketball game against No. 2 Gonzaga.

Students were allowed to begin camping outside of the Marriott Center at midnight on Friday. Barricades at the top and bottom of the stairs leading to the arena’s southwest entrance attempted to control the flow of people once the allotted time came, but to no avail.

A line formed outside of the barricades well before midnight. Only a small part of the stairs was opened at midnight, creating a funnel of students trying to stake out a spot in line. The ensuing panic and pushing from behind caused injuries from trampling and pressing against barricades, according to several students present.

“It was a lot of people in a small area and it didn’t seem very well organized. The flow was terrible,” Caleb Haymore, a pre-business freshman said. “The problem was that since there was only a half barricade (open), people that were filled up all the way behind would shove forward and try to break through the barricade. And they did, but then some of it got stuck onto the railings, and people (were) getting pinned against it.”

Haymore said his foot got crushed as he tried to make his way around the barricade and got shoved into it by the crowd. He added that no university police officers were on hand to help with the control, just members of the ROC board who instructed students “to be Christlike.”

Haymore’s situation was not unique, although his foot injury was relatively minor compared to other students.

“A girl passed out. My really good friend cut her hand because it got caught between two of the plastic pieces,” Luce Hansen, a freshman studying Latin American studies said. “It was insane, it was crazy.”

One student in line said it was “like a movie.”

Freshman McKay Margetts said it “felt like (he) was getting pushed from all sides.” He mentioned the ROC board members stopped the line formation for a time to allow fallen students to get back up, but one female student was “on the ground for a while,” around five minutes according to his estimation.

The stampede at the beginning of the line formation was just the start of a grueling weekend for those waiting outside until 8 p.m. Saturday. Temperatures dipped into the single digits overnight and barely got above freezing during the day. Students are using layers of blankets, sleeping bags, cups of hot chocolate and heaters to keep warm.

The Universe reached out to the ROC and BYU Emergency Medical Services for comment on the stampede but has not heard back.

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