MORRISON, Colo. — Broken bones, broken windshields and general “hysteria” were all part of the chaotic scene that unfolded as concertgoers were pelted by hail at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in the Colorado foothills Wednesday night.
A few of those concertgoers described the mayhem to Denver7 cameras, recalling bloodied and bruised bodies, flash flooding akin to an “ice bath” and a parking lot covered by hailstones and shattered glass.
Seven people were sent to a hospital and as many as 80 to 90 others were treated at Red Rocks for injuries that included cuts and broken bones.
Fans had flocked to the famous venue to see Louis Tomlinson, the One Direction alum who made a stop in Colorado as part of a summer world tour.
The show was delayed at least twice due to inclement weather. Late in the evening, venue workers issued a severe weather warning and urged attendees to go to their cars.
“That's when it just started pouring hail,” said August Loewen. “There were some golf ball sized pieces. It was crazy.”
“All of a sudden people started running. They were tripping over each other. We're trying to run forever, screaming,” a concertgoer named Kellie told Denver7 from her car after the canceled show. “We have bruises on ourselves. Babies were crying. It was scary.”
“There was a lot of hysteria,” Sophie Kipp said.
At least one path to exit the venue was blocked off as people tried to get to safety, Denver7 was told. Loewen said a gate was closed to prevent fans being swept down the hill in rushing water.
Videos sent into the Denver7 newsroom showed water and hailstones flowing down the venue’s staircases.
my dad took this right after i was safe backstage. it was straight out of a horror movie. pic.twitter.com/cCzY2jiDIE— madi♡²⁸ (@anditslou) June 22, 2023
“[Water] was up to her knees,” said Kellie, who told us she lost her shoes in the floodwaters. “It was like an ice bath [...] Our feet were freezing.”
Mazie Johnson wrote to Denver7 late Wednesday describing the madness.
“[My friends and I] were blocked from going any further down the hill because of a wall of people, and ended up in the middle, surrounded by layers of panicking people, unable to effectively move forward or anywhere,” she wrote via email. “One of my friends got crushed to the point she couldn’t move her arms.”
Ainsley Edwards recalled hail ricocheting off of tables and other objects – some of which people were using to protect themselves – and the shards cutting people nearby. She said she saw several fellow attendees bleeding from the shoulders after being hit by sharp hailstones.
Many in the panicked crowds made it to the parking lot only to find their cars severely damaged by hail.
Raegan Solano, who spoke to Denver7 alongside Loewen and Edwards, said she found hailstones inside her car after her windshield was shattered. Mustafa Gemeda, a taxi driver who was parked on the side of the venue when hail started falling, said the ride share lot was pummeled.
“One hundred-plus taxis [had] the whole windshield totally just shredded,” Gemeda said. “I’ve never seen it like this. It’s very amazing and very dangerous.”
For its part, Red Rocks on Thursday issued a lukewarm acknowledgment of the wild events from the night before.
“We want to take a moment to acknowledge the severe weather event at Red Rocks last night and offer our sincere best wishes to everyone affected by last night’s storms across Colorado,” read a tweet from the venue’s official account.
We want to take a moment to acknowledge the severe weather event at Red Rocks last night and offer our sincere best wishes to everyone affected by last night’s storms across Colorado. pic.twitter.com/rTgPI7UGvq— Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre (@RedRocksCO) June 22, 2023
It went on to say the decision to cancel the show was made “even harder” because of the number of fans who traveled long distances to attend the concert. It also made an awkward mention of “having a little talk with Mother Nature about this weather business at Red Rocks” following a string of inclement weather events at the venue.
Colorado weather in-depth: Explaining our severe weather patterns
The hail storm in Morrison was part of an outbreak of severe weather across a large swatch of the state Wednesday afternoon and evening. Multiple tornadoes were confirmed on the eastern plains, and several areas were hit by flooding as heavy rainfall fell.
Denver International Airport set a new record for daily rainfall with 1.85 inches, breaking the 76-year-old previous record by a full inch.
Denver7 photojournalist Dalton Ross contributed to this report.