SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) –
Far from a rowdy bunch, the “Twi-hards,” as the fan group calls itself, quietly and insistently brought their sleeping bags, snacks and comfy chairs to the lawn adjacent to Hall H and waited for official lines to start, despite convention organizers’ advice not to line up before an official queue could be organized for the historically packed panel.
One of those fans, 53-year-old Gisela Gagliardi, was killed near the convention center when walking across the intersection at Harbor Drive and Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego just before 9:30 am on Tuesday.
While crossing the street against oncoming traffic that had a green light, Gagliardi tripped and fell against a moving car. She died en route to the hospital.
Although not confirmed by San Diego authorities at this time, Gagliardi’s identity was established by friends who noted she was a compatriot in the Twi-hard contingent. She went by @mad4hugh on Twitter and described herself as a “Lover of in no particular order: Twilight books, movies, etc., Hugh Jackman, Robert Pattinson, travelling, NYC, Australlia, cats….”
As more and more people attend Comic-Con, lines for panels have grown exponentially longer. The process for acquiring tickets and hotel rooms has become a complicated dance of online forms, refreshed browsers and lottery systems. And any return attendee can tell you, the snarl of automobile and pedestrian traffic around the convention center and the adjacent Gaslamp District is at once confusing and infuriating.
The fact that such a tragedy happened in the run-up to one of the most exciting conventions known to fandom has plenty of attendees soberly focused on the possible dangers to pedestrians – who can certainly be less than alert in the exhilaration surrounding Comic-Con.
iReporter and Comic-Con veteran Alan Kistler told CNN, “I think we’re already seeing yet another clear sign that there needs to be some changes in how certain things are run.”
“People started lining up for Hall H on Monday,” he said. “Not only is that absurd, it’s already proven to be dangerous as one person has actually died. Yes, she was jay-walking and didn’t have the right of way. But I don’t think she or anyone else should have been allowed to line up so early anyway. It’s absurd and it’s not a place free of traffic.”
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