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Deadheads' hurt at campground collapse

WENTZVILLE, Mo., July 6 -- A balcony collapsed in a St. Louis- area campground pavilion packed with more than 200 Grateful Dead fans seeking shelter from a thunderstorm. More than 100 people were injured, officials said Thursday. The injured were taken to area hospitals, where about a dozen were admitted. State and St. Charles County officials said as many as four people were in critical condition with possibly life-threatening injuries, and nine were in serious condition. Another 92 people were treated and released, officials said. The accident occurred around midnight after a performance by the Grateful Dead rock group, and followed the deaths Wednesday of two people at the campground, apparently from drug overdoses. About 200 people were jammed onto a porch and the balcony above at the pavilion at the Pinewoods Camping and Fishing Park campground, 45 miles west of St. Louis, said Martin Limpert, a St. Charles County emergency services spokesman. There were people in the rafters supporting the balcony when it came crashing down, he said. Most of the people were in the area to see a Grateful Dead concert, and they had flocked to the structure to escape heavy rain and thunderstorms. 'It was really chaotic when we first got there, with people screaming,' Limpert said. Limpert said rescue units from all over the metropolitan area responded. Two school buses were used to transport those with less serious injuries to hospitals, and an area casino also sent a bus to assist. Limpert said rescue efforts were somewhat hampered by the crowds of people wandering around the site and the fact that there is only one road into the campground.

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The people who were most severely injured suffered broken bones, pelvic fractures and head, neck and back injuries, and were admitted to St. Joseph Hospital in St. Louis, St. Joseph Medical Center in St. Charles and Barnes Hospital, officials said. Other victims suffered lacerations and bruises, Limpert said. St. Charles County dispatcher Capt. Donna Schlueter said there were about 5,000 people staying at the campground, nearly all of them 'Deadheads,' as fervent followers of the Grateful Dead are known. The rock group was scheduled to perform the second of two concerts Thursday at the Riverport Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Mo. Investigators were at the campground, trying to determine the cause of the collapse.

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