OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The man struck by a fellow concert goer who accidentally fell from the Chase Center upper deck at Sunday night’s Phish show suffered a broken leg, but told KPIX on Tuesday the accident easily could have been fatal.
“Life and death is seriously a game of inches,” said Evan Reeves, the avid Bay Area music fan and die-hard Phish follower who was injured in the second incident.
The accidental fall happened about an hour after an attendee fell to his death from the upper level into the seats of Section 116 at the Chase Center.
San Francisco authorities are still investigating that fatal fall, but the San Francisco Medical Examiner on Tuesday identified the victim as 47-year-old Athens, NY resident Ryan Prosser.
Reeves was waiting for the band’s second set when the man fell from Section 213 and landed on him at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
“Right inside portal 50, between sections 213 and 214, there’s a flat foyer area with one row of folding ADA seats at the very front,” explained Reeves, a 44-year-old Oakland resident. “I was sitting cross-legged on the floor right behind those seats waiting for the second set to start.”
Reeves’s assigned seat was actually in the second row of upper deck Section 217, but he said he had moved to find space elsewhere because he “…didn’t feel safe dancing there.”
“The balcony rows are super narrow, so it’s really hard to dance at your seat without fearing that you’re going to trip and fall,” he said. “I just decided to find another spot.”
His concern stemmed partly from how low the plexiglass barriers are at the front of the upper-level seating sections, what he referred to as “pony walls.”
“Those pony walls seriously need to be more than a few inches higher,” Reeves said. “When I met my friend at my assigned seat, we were commenting to each other how low and dangerous the wall is.”
That moment, he witnessed what he said could have been another fall from the upper-level seating at Chase Center during the same evening.
“In fact, during that exchange I saw a guy sitting on the pony wall facing his seat. One bump and he’d be a goner,” remembered Reeves. “It should not be possible to sit on.”
Witnesses told KPIX 5 they saw a man one level above trip and plunge over the barrier from the third level. He landed in Reeves’s lap, which helped break the man’s fall. The person who fell was seriously injured, but survived.
Reeves said the moment of impact when he was hit by the falling Phish fan was shocking.
“Well, it was a loud thud, then sharp pain in my left leg and a guy’s head in my lap,” said Reeves. “I right away dragged myself a few feet away to get some distance so he could be treated.”
Despite the surprise, Reeves quickly gathered what had transpired.
“I knew immediately what had happened, because as an usher in the music scene, I had already heard many stories of people falling from balconies over the years,” Reeves said.
Despite the pain he was feeling after being injured, Reeves told paramedics he wasn’t ready to head to the hospital for treatment.
“My first thought, after hoping the guy’s OK, was hoping I wouldn’t have to miss the second set,” he said. “With the on-site doctor’s consent, I convinced them to wheel me back in for the last 40 minutes while I waited for my wife to pick me up to take me to an Oakland hospital.”
Reeves shared a photo that showed him grooving away in a wheelchair during the band’s performance.
After being examined at Alta Bates Summit Hospital, Reeves was unquestionably lucky to have only suffered a broken leg under the circumstances.
“Once they confirmed it was a fibula fracture with no displacement, they pretty much sent me on my way with an ACE bandage and crutches,” said Reeves.
Doctors estimate it will take six weeks for his broken leg to heal. Reeves said he’s counting his blessings.
“If I had been sitting two inches to the side, he could’ve landed right on my head and it could’ve been game over,” explained Reeves. “Or if I had been sitting two inches the other way, I wouldn’t have been there to help break his fall. It could’ve been worse for him.”
A Chase Center spokesperson released the following statement regarding the incidents Monday:
“We are working with the local authorities to determine exactly what happened, and will defer questions about the incident to the San Francisco Police Department.”
Anyone with information about either case is being asked to contact the Police Department’s tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to text a tip to TIP411 with “SPD” at the start of the message.
Andria Borba contributed to this story.