…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
The tragic crowd crush at O2 Academy Brixton, during a concert by Nigerian Afrobeats artist Asake in December, has prompted a corporate manslaughter investigation by the police.
Two victims, Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and security worker Gaby Hutchinson, 23, lost their lives, while a 21-year-old woman remains seriously injured in the hospital.
The incident occurred when ticketless fans attempted to force their way into the concert venue’s foyer in south London.
Heartbreaking Realization for Ikumelo’s Young Sons
In a heart-wrenching interview, the mother of Rebecca Ikumelo, Yetunde Olodo, 59, shared the pain experienced by her grandsons, Jamael, seven, and Joellle, five, who are starting to comprehend that their mother will never return home to Newham, east London.
Ms. Olodo expressed the sadness in Jamael, noting that he may not fully understand the situation, but he feels the absence of his mother.
The youngest child, Joellle, used to believe his mother went to his grandmother’s house, but recently, he said she “went away” without knowing where.
The Impact on the Children’s Emotional Well-being
The family has created a photo book and watches videos to help the children cope, but Jamael, in particular, is struggling with the loss.
Wale Ikumelo, Rebecca’s brother and an autism awareness campaigner, observed that as months passed, the boys became increasingly curious, repeatedly asking, “Where is my mum?” The family is concerned about the psychological impact on the children and hopes for answers.
Call for Accountability and Urgent Safety Measures
Anthony Ikumelo, Rebecca’s father, called on Asake, his management, and off-stage crew to cooperate fully with the police investigation and take responsibility for what went wrong.
Comparing the situation to Ariana Grande’s cancellation of her tour after the 2017 Manchester suicide bombing, he emphasized that singer-songwriter Asake’s upcoming performance at Greenwich’s larger O2 Arena in August does not resonate well in light of the tragedy.
Mr. Ikumelo urged everyone, from the government downward, to work together to prevent such incidents in the future and ensure justice for their family.
Anguish and Demands for Justice from the Grieving Families
Mary, Rebecca Ikumelo’s aunt, expressed anger and grief, demanding answers about the safety measures in place at the concert.
She stated that attending a concert should not result in death, emphasizing the family’s determination to seek justice for their loved one.
Chris Hutchinson, Gaby’s mother, also raised concerns about the lack of safety precautions, questioning why her daughter, who worked as a dog handler, was inside the venue when her role involved perimeter checks.
She questioned the large number of people present and demanded accountability for the tragedy.
Devastating Loss of a Promising Life
Gaby Hutchinson, who was in a happy phase of life with plans to marry her girlfriend and start a family, tragically lost her life in the incident.
Her mother, Chris, remains in disbelief, yearning for her daughter’s return and grieving the life that was cut short.
Gaby’s sister, Nina, expressed outrage that her sister died while simply doing her job, highlighting that her death was preventable and should not have occurred.
She directed blame towards those who sold counterfeit tickets, contributing to the overcrowding that led to the incident.
Ongoing Investigation and Plea for Witnesses
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney of the Metropolitan Police disclosed that a complex criminal investigation is underway, encompassing potential charges of corporate manslaughter, criminal negligence manslaughter, unlawful act manslaughter, health and safety at work offenses, violent disorder, and assault.
The police are urging anyone with information, including videos and photographs, to come forward.
The venue’s license has been suspended, and the police are urging Lambeth councillors to permanently close O2 Academy Brixton.
However, an online petition to save the academy has gained over 113,000 signatures.
Silence from Asake and O2 Academy Brixton
Asake and O2 Academy Brixton have been approached for comment regarding the incident, but they have not yet responded.
The investigation continues, and the grieving families await justice for their loved ones.