The woman who suffered a massive seizure at a Duanesburg music festival in 2012, and has been severely disabled ever since, died on Friday, according to a family friend.
According to a 2012 article in The Daily Gazette, Heather Bynum was 24 at the time of the incident at Camp Bisco, a musical festival that has since been banned by Schenectady County officials because of safety concerns and allegations of rampant drug use.
Bynum worked at Wedgeway Barber Shop in Schenectady for six years, according to her boss and friend Richard DiCristifaro, who owns the barbershop on Erie Boulevard.
“She was a tremendous employee that everyone took a liking to immediately upon meeting her,” said DiCristifaro, who is also a family friend.
Camp Bisco was held annually on the 200-acre Indian Lookout Country Club in Duanesburg, and Bynum had attended the festival in 2011. In 2012 she decided to buy VIP tickets and be one of the first attendees to enter the grounds when they opened July 12. Before any of the acts had performed, however, Bynum had a massive seizure and stopped breathing. Emergency responders were able to revive her and she was transported to Ellis Hospital, where she suffered more seizures, a heart attack, liver failure, and lapsed into a coma. The prognosis from doctors at the time was grim, and Bynum was kept alive by way of a respirator and feeding tube.
DiCristifaro said in the years since the incident, Bynum could not speak or move, and received care from her sisters and mother, as well as a home health care aid. He and others from the barbershop would visit Bynum every other week, and DiCristifaro said she could recognize voices and even signal that she knew who was speaking to her.
“She would kind of make a facial contortion,” said DiCristifaro, letting them know she was aware of their presence.
In 2013, the organizers of Camp Bisco were brought to court in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Bynum, whose mother claimed emergency responders took too long to get to her after the seizure.
Last spring the owner of Indian Lookout Country Club sued Schenectady County after county officials denied Camp Bisco a mass-gathering permit last October. In February of this year a state Supreme Court justice upheld the denial.
The legal manueverings have been accompanied by calls from local residents to ban the festival, some of whom wrote letters to this newspaper criticizing the event for being unsafe and encouraging illegal drug use. A Gazette article reported that Ellis Hospital had treated 35 people from Camp Bisco, 12 of whom were admitted for drug overdoses. Authorities have also attributed the death of William P. Graumann, 29, of New Jersey, to an apparent drug overdose at the festival.
A Gazette article in February of this year said the country club still has an appeal pending on the decision with the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, which could be resolved this summer.
As for this most recent development, DiCristifaro said Bynum’s passing may have eased her suffering.
“This could be a blessing in disguise because there seemed to have been no hope for her recovery after 3 1/2 years,” DiCristifaro said. “But she must be in a better place.”
“It’s just a loss for everyone,” he added.
Reach Gazette reporter Dan Fitzsimmons at 852-9605, [email protected] or @DanFitzsimmons on Twitter.