When Gregory Louttit and his girlfriend Marjorie Herodier made the long drive to the Ottawa area for Amnesia Rockfest, they were hoping to hear some of the biggest names in music – Tenacious D, System Of A Down, Rob Zombie and Snoop Dogg. They did get to hear a couple of the groups they’d traveled so far for – The Offspring and Linkin Park. But when Snoop Dogg came on, they were only able to hear him from a distance – because they were getting loaded into an ambulance, after falling 10 metres from the top of a ferris wheel.
“Me and my nephew went the day before, and we were rocking the chair,” he said. “On the ferris wheel there’s no sign that says ‘No Rocking the Chair’ or anything like that.” The next day, Louttit, Herodier, his nephew and her brother went on the wheel again.
“It went around two or three times, and I was rocking it. My girlfriend was taking video. Then all of a sudden, the [guard] I was holding on to just came off. It just popped open. The next thing I knew I hit steel bars on my way down, like two or three times, before I finally hit the ground. I couldn’t breathe at all. Everybody moved toward me, and I was like, ‘Get the hell away from me! You’re breathing all my air!’”
Now the pair are stuck in Gatineau. Louttit suffered torn ligaments in his knee and a fractured shoulder blade, while Herodier has a dislocated hip and five fractured ribs.
“Plus a bunch of cuts and scrapes,” he added. “We’ve got bruises everywhere. But I’m getting better and better every day. I’m getting more and more independent. I can’t really use my leg. I’m using a leg-brace.”
Herodier, he said, is in the hospital for the foreseeable future: she can’t walk yet, and could be there between a couple of weeks and a month. Louttit is awaiting surgery on his knee. He has a friend who can give him a drive home to Chisasibi, but he’s in enough pain that he worries that the long and bumpy ride over the James Bay Highway will be intolerable and doesn’t want to leave without Herodier. Back in Chisasibi, he works as a security guard at the pool and supports her.
“I’m missing work right now,” he said. “I was about to sign a contract, and I don’t know what’s going to happen with the contract because I just got injured. I won’t receive any income.”
People have told him that he should sue Rockfest’s organizers, but the prospect of taking legal action is daunting.
“I don’t know how suing people works. People are telling me we should sue them, but it seems really complicated. I’m not sure if I’m going to do it or not. But I’d like to get some sort of compensation,” he said.
At the moment, Louttit is paying for everything out of his own pocket. He said he expected that Cree Patient Services would offer more than they have so far, and he’s disappointed that they haven’t taken better care of him.
“Cree Patient Services didn’t want to do anything with me, for some reason,” he said. “It’s weird. I called them and spoke to the lady. She said that if I was kept in the hospital for 24 hours, which I wasn’t, then CPS would have taken care of me. But it’s crazy. They just kicked me out of the hospital. I had to find my own place to stay.”
However, because Louttit needs to return to hospital for surgery, he has been told that CPS will take care of him then. Until then, it’s just a matter of passing the time with friends in Gatineau.
A communications representative for Amnesia Rockfest, Caroline Bergevin, could not confirm the organization’s official position on the accident.
“I cannot comment on the incident,” she said. “I really don’t know what happened, what they did, and why they fell off. I just know that everything was made to be secure and that everyone could get out. The paramedics came and everything was good, so they suffered only minor injuries. I’m not sure at all what happened there. But I’ve reached out to the owner of the ferris wheel and he told me the Régie du bâtiment du Québec has inspected the ferris wheel and everything is up to standard.”