It is literally impossible to talk about MFF 2014 without mentioning the chemical incident. But more on that in a bit.
Midwest FurFest 2014 was a convention that was held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. from December 5th to December 7th, 2014.Total attendance was 4,571, including 1,132 participants in the fursuit parade and 186 staff members
This was my 2nd con ever, and what a 2nd con.
The Guests of Honor were:
Later on I met the idiot who did this, who told me not only they were banned from the hotel, but MFF and as far as I know they are still banned.
I could post more highlights…but what about the incident. The truth is I wasn’t there, I am a morning person by about 10 PM I start getting very sleepy.
But Later on I heard 2 stories from friends
#1 This friend was in Whose Lion, when the alarm went off, they waited outside for hours before someone had the idea to open the convention center. There they waited until 4:43 AM when they were told they could come home. Which was at 5:30 AM after recording the incident on the local news they went to sleep until that afternoon.
#2 This friend was up on the 9th floor and there room was near the staircase where this happened. When the alarm went off they hit that same stair, they also have asthma. They nearly passed out after they turned around, and thankfully was helped by other furries to get outside. Where they were rushed to the hospital where they wasn’t released until Monday.
To what they official account says:
At 12:45 a.m. on the third day of the convention, December 7th, Midwest FurFest’s primary hotel was forced to evacuate when somebody dropped a jar of powdered chlorine inside the building.First responders were called to investigate a noxious odor that was spreading across the ninth and eighth floor of the hotel, where a high level of chlorine powder was discovered in the air. The Rosemont Public Safety Department reported that the chemical was released from a smashed glass container containing powdered chlorine found in the 9th floor stairwell. Due to seasonably cool temperatures, the Hyatt and Rosemont Public Safety evacuated attendees, some in fursuits, to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
Nineteen people were transported to nearby hospitals after complaining of nausea, dizziness and other medical problems. None were hospitalized and all were released. HAZMAT technicians decontaminated the area and after conducting several tests deemed the area safe within about two hours. People were allowed back into the building around 4:20 a.m.
A television news stringer arrived at the scene during the event and recorded footage of the evacuation in progress, which became the footage used in news reports around the world. News coverage of the evacuation began almost immediately, with two of Chicago’s 24-hour news radio stations (WGN-AM and WBBM-AM) mentioning it on the air within minutes of the evacuation beginning, initially as traffic alerts (due to the road closures caused by the emergency response) but quickly moved it into news segments as additional information regarding the scope of the evacuation reached their newsrooms. The incident was a lead story that morning during newscasts on almost all of the Chicago television stations, with WMAQ (NBC 5) and WLS (ABC 7) sending crews to the hotel for live reports. The incident also featured on an episode of MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Normal convention operations and events continued on schedule, with the convention staff releasing an official statement about the incident and evacuation later on the day.
Vice News followed up with the incident in an article on February 12th, 2016. An incident report filed by the Rosemont Police Department shows the case was logged into the system on December 8, 2014, assigned to a detective on December 29 of that year, and closed on July 29, 2015. Detectives from the Rosemont Police Department declined to comment directly on the case, but reports they provided to VICE show that in the days following the incident, officers interviewed at least 30 hotel guests, more than 19 hotel employees, and a number of hospital workers, taxi drivers, and staff employed at local pool and hardware supply stores that sell chlorine. While officers investigated the whereabouts of several individuals, it’s unclear how many were considered suspects and during what time.
MFF Eventually released the following
At around 12:45 AM on Sunday, December 7, the Hyatt Regency O’Hare received a complaint of a chemical odor on the ninth floor. Following a 9-1-1 call, first responders determined that a container with a chlorine-containing chemical was broken there. At 1:10 AM the entire hotel was evacuated, first across Bryn Mawr Ave. in front of the Hyatt as per Rosemont Fire Department’s standard procedures, then when it became apparent that the wait would take longer the Stephens Convention Center was opened to provide warmth and shelter to our guests. A full HazMat response was called in at that time.
In the course of investigating the scene, the Rosemont Police Department determined that this was “consistent with a criminal act” and began investigating it as such. This delayed allowing guests back into the hotel. Midwest FurFest was and is deeply thankful for the cooperation and patience shown during this time. At 4:21 AM the all-clear was given and we worked with the Hyatt staff to return all of our guests to the hotel in the quickest and safest manner possible.
Rosemont Public Safety had reported that nineteen people who complained of nausea and dizziness were transported to local hospitals. Because they were transported after the hotel (including Hyatt staff) was evacuated, we do not have any identification of these individuals.
Outside of initial first responders and assisting in the evacuation of our attendees and staff, Midwest FurFest relinquished complete control of the onsite emergency response and the subsequent criminal investigation. Midwest FurFest is forever grateful to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare for its amazing response and support throughout these trying times. In turn, we must thank the City of Rosemont and the brave emergency responders from throughout the surrounding community for their assistance.
Our staff assisted authorities in their inquiries to our fullest capabilities and we encouraged our attendees to aid us in that process. At this point in time we are unable to comment further as this matter is a pending investigation by the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
However, it is noteworthy that during this time of crisis we were aided by many staff members from other furry conventions throughout the world and attendees who volunteered their services to aid in the evacuation process. Midwest FurFest is tremendously grateful for their assistance and this only illustrates how supportive the furry community is towards helping one another.
Though this unfortunate incident clearly impacted all of our attendees, Midwest FurFest was able to return to almost normal operations by Sunday morning. The furry community was exceptionally supportive of our convention in the wake of this incident and our resilient staff and remarkably understanding and sympathetic attendees helped us finish the weekend on many positive notes:
Our charity, Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary, was able to raise $11,000 by charitable donations from our attendees and an additional $20,000 was donated from Midwest Furry Fandom, Inc.
Our convention experienced our highest attendance to date, an estimated 4,600 attendees from around 15 different countries.
Midwest FurFest was able to provide almost 300 hours of attendee inspired programming.
As stated previously we are unable to comment further on the incident this weekend and defer any additional questions to local law enforcement. We appreciate your inquiry and understanding.
I then conducted my own investigation and here is what I found through various sources.
Through what security camera footage that was available. They narrowed down the suspects to 11, including someone that was actually moving pool chemicals. Since they no solid evidence against anyone. The case was turned out to the feds and that is where it is currently.
To what happened after MFF, both the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and the nearby convention center spent an entire year installing new cameras. Including new ones in said staircase, as well as installing a brand new system to handle pool chemicals.
If you know what to look for, they are fairly easy to see. I swear every square inch of all the public areas in the hotel are completely covered.
Out of all the coverage videos I could post and they are all available on YouTube. This one from Aberguine is the best.