Spanish popstar Joana Sainz Garcia, a performer with the group Orquesta Super Hollywood (Super Hollywood Orchestra), was killed when an exploding firework malfunctioned and struck her onstage during a concert in Las Berlanas, Spain. The incident occurred in front of approximately 1,000 spectators.
The band was in the middle of a song when the incident occurred, just before 2 a.m. on September 1. Audience members saw a big flash and heard a loud bang from the right side of the stage, then witnessed Garcia collapse. “We thought it was part of the show until we heard the screams,” Las Berlanas Mayor Hermelina del Pozo told En Espanol.
“Unfortunately, the name of Joana Sáinz will be forever linked to that of Las Berlanas, not for her good work on stage, but for the fatality of the incident that has ended her life,” Provincial Council of Ávila President Carlos García González Avila said in a statement to Europa Pass.
Here’s what you need to know about Joana Sainz Garcia and the accident at Orquesta Super Hollywood’s Las Berlanas concert.
1. Joana Sainz Garcia Was Orquesta Super Hollywood’s Principal Dancer & Choreographer
Joana Sainz Garcia, 30, was known professionally as Joana Sainz, and was Orquesta Super Hollywood’s principal dancer. She also served as the group’s choreographer and was responsible for their numerous dance routines.
Garcia was raised in Santander, a port city on Spain’s north coast in the Cantabria region. She later moved to Suances, also in Cantabria. “The first time I saw her, when she came, I realized her virtues. She was a girl with a lot of energy, with a lot of desire. From the beginning, I saw her a dancer,” Garcias teacher, Marta Rojo told El Espanol. Rojo recalled Garcia started formal dance training in either 2010 or 2011 and attended classes every day.
In addition to her role with Orquesta Super Hollywood, Garcia worked with a dance school. “How sad!! With a whole life ahead!! Full of projects and energy. My heartfelt condolences to your family and friends,” friend Ingrid Alejandra Campos Robayo wrote on Garcia’s Facebook page.
“She always showed exemplary behavior, both personal and artistic, in addition to a great human quality. It’s going to be very difficult for all of us to overcome her absence. We will always remember you, Joana. R.I.P,” Director Isidro Lopez of the promotion company Prones said.
Garcia’s obituary noted that she is survived by her parents, Francisco and Dolores, and sister Michelle.
2. It Took 25 Minutes for an Ambulance to Arrive
According to authorities, the malfunctioning firework cartridge struck Garcia in the abdomen, causing severe damage to an artery. Band members immediately went over to try and help. A doctor and three nurses who were in the audience rushed onstage and provided first aid.
It took the ambulance 25 minutes to arrive. Paramedics attempted to stabilize Garcia, who unconscious, and then transported her to Avila Healthcare Complex where she was pronounced dead. No reason has been given for the ambulance’s delay.
3. Garcia Had Been with Super Orchestra Hollywood for Six Years & Was Comfortable around Pyrotechnics
Orqusta Super Hollywood is a pop band comprised of 15 stage singers, dancers, and musicians. According to En Espanol, Garcia had been with the group for six years.
The band, which has over 12,000 Facebook followers, typically performs in Spanish and English, and frequently covers songs by Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Kiss and Queen. The group is known for is elaborate special effects and pyrotechnics were a staple during their performances.
According to one show promoter, identified only as “Eva” by En Espanol, Garcia felt very comfortable performing dance numbers around the show’s fireworks displays. “It has shocked us all. She was a great girl: hardworking, kind, good person,” she said.
4. Investigators Believe the Accident Resulted From a Faulty Firework Cartridge
The pyrotechnical display was launched by band members, who were able to activate it at certain points during their show using a special electronic system. Rockets on the left and right sides of the stage were supposed to fire.
Lopez said pyrotechnic cartridges were usually detonated during performances “to give a little show.” He told El Diario Montanes the band’s members have used the pyrotechnic system more than 2,000 times without incident.
Investigators believe the accident resulted from a faulty cartridge and not from any negligence on the part of the band or its technical crew. “Nobody can explain it,” Lopez said, adding that the group had been performing the same act for five years. Lopez also said Spanish law enforcement and the Civil Guard are investigating the two companies that supplied the pyrotechnics and cartridges.
5. The Concert Was Held to Commemorate the Community’s Recovery from Another Tragedy
The concert was held as part of a four-day festival that marked another tragedy in Las Berlanas. On August 29, 1959, the La Berlana river flooded, destroying 59 homes and killing two visitors from the neighboring village of Pradosegar. Construction of a new borough was completed in 1963 and a monument commemorating the flood was unveiled on August 29, 2009.
Every year, the town of approximately 300 residents hold an annual festival to give thanks that no other tragedies have occurred. It was the second time Orquesta Super Hollywood had performed at the city’s annual event. This year’s concert was initially scheduled to take place in the town square but was moved to accommodate a larger audience.
Joana Sainz Garcia and her bandmates had previously played at other celebrations in the Cantabria region. Earlier in 2019 the group had performed during the Cantabria Day festival.