Problems plague start of the Rainbow Family gathering

Published 06/24 2014 07:54PM

Updated 06/24 2014 09:40PM

WASATCH COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - The rainbow family gathering in the mountains east of Heber City has grown to an estimated 800 people and could swell to more than 10,000 by the July 4.

They say it's a celebration of peace and love with no guns, no alcohol and mutual respect for everybody but just over a week into the Rainbow Family Gathering we already have one person dead, two in the hospital and one behind bars.

Leilani Novak-Garcia, 32, from New Mexico is in the Wasatch County Jail charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing Neil Sparling, 45, of Salt Lake City early Monday morning.

“The girl last night, she's bipolar or…she's got problems so we were glad that she went out, so stuff happens,” said Jai, Rainbow Family member.

That follows the death of a 39-year-old New Hampshire woman on June 15.

“The young lady who died of most likely a heart attack, if I remember, I wasn't here yet, she has seizure problems. It was her first day on the site and she was a happy person, clean, not all dirty hippy…She was all excite and she went to sleep and died and she was sober,” said Jai.

“I know one guy had a seizure because he didn't take his medicine,” said Gigi, Rainbow Family member.

That man was taken by Medivac helicopter and is being treated for a suspected overdose.

“He saw the cops and ran for some reason and they sic'd their dogs on him and the dogs knocked him down and as soon as he fell down he started having the seizure and they sic'd the dogs on him twice and handcuffed him and for 40 minutes he was laying there having a seizure,” said Paisley, Rainbow Family Member.

On Tuesday, it was calm at the fringe camps with a lot of patrols from the Forest Service and the Wasatch County Sherriff’s Office. Last week, Sheriff Todd Bonner told a group of residents the gathering will mean overtime for his officers.

“No one likes it. This many people coming in. It's a strain on law enforcement. It's a real strain on law enforcement around here. We hate it,” said Bonner.

“You've got a lot of people who can be volatile so some stuff does happen and there's always going to be elements in any society where there's not so good,” said Patrizio, Rainbow Family Member.

Some of the people say they have been harassed by all the law enforcement presence and they prefer to take care of things with their own peacekeepers or shantacinas as they call them.

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