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17 October 2017

19-year-old Miami resident hit, killed by car while attending Imagine Music Festival

A weekend filled with music and fun ended in sorrow for the loved ones of 19-year-old Fabian Gonzalez.

Gonzalez had his life cut tragically short after a car struck and killed him while he attended a concert at Atlanta Motor Speedway last month. Police reports say Gonzalez was just a few hundred feet away from the venue’s entrance when the accident occurred shortly before midnight on September 23.

The Miami, Florida, resident was in town for the annual Imagine Music Festival.

Gonzalez and his friends were among an estimated 30,000 people who flocked to Hampton, Georgia, for the event that featured world famous DJs like Tiesto, DeadMau5 and Above & Beyond.

The 3-day festival started ordinarily for Gonzalez and his companions. They arrived at the track, normally used for NASCAR races, expecting to party late into the night. Their expectations quickly changed when Fabian Gonzalez disappeared.

Gonzalez’s friend, Eric Same, posted a desperate plea on the social media app Radiate.

“Guys, help! Hey everyone, my friend Fabian is missing. If you’ve seen him, hey me plz! [sic],” Same’s message read.

An update later confirmed the worst.

“He’s in the hospital. It’s looking bad. He was found in his underwear with his bag stolen a few miles away from the festival. Looks like he might’ve gotten hit by a car,” Same posted online.

Fabian Gonzalez, 19, died at the hospital on September 26.

Major Mike Ireland, a spokesman for the Henry County Police Department, provided additional details about the incident.

“Mr. Gonzalez was running in the middle of the street, at 11:39 p.m., without clothing when he was struck by a vehicle,” Ireland said. “He was transported to Atlanta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a few days later.”

(Three people witnessed a fatal car accident occur on this quiet two-lane road in Hampton, Georgia. Photo Credit: Andre Walker.)
The Henry County Police report, obtained through an open records request, indicates that Gonzalez was hit 325 feet away from the intersection of Oak Street and U.S. Highway 41 in Hampton. Atlanta Motor Speedway is located across from an Exxon gas station where the two roads cross.

Asked if the motorist driving the car that hit Gonzalez would be charged, Ireland said no. Ireland also noted that a toxicology report would not be compiled on Gonzalez either.

Imagine Music Festival organizers say they were informed of the incident shortly after it occurred.

“Imagine have been cooperating with this ongoing investigation, given the proximity to the festival, but cannot comment further,” festival spokesman Chad Shearer said.

Gonzalez’s death marks the second time an Imagine ticketholder lost his life while attending the festival in the past year. 21-year-old Kurt Stelzig of Rock Hill, South Carolina died from injuries sustained in a fall during the 2016 Imagine Music Festival. Neither incident occurred on festival grounds, however.

Still, safety at Imagine remains a hot topic for some.

Many Imagine festival-goers complained about safety, security and the lack of water stations to WSB-TV last year.

The festival is also the defendant in a civil suit filed by Suzanne Randall. Randall claims the organizers’ negligence caused her to be hit by a vendor’s car on festival grounds, and is seeking an undisclosed amount of monetary damages. The legal action is currently pending in DeKalb County State Court.