By Drum Corps Planet
Sep 3, 2005, 19:37
Joel “Lothar” Magnuson, mellophone player with the Kilties Drum & Bugle Corps, tragically passed away this evening after collapsing on the field during the corps’ performance at the Drum Corps Associates’ preliminary competition.
Following his collapse, the Kilties cleared the field mid-performance while medical personnel attended to him. The corps then restarted its performance after Joel was taken by ambulance toward a nearby hospital. Following the corps’ official photograph, they were told of Joel’s untimely death.
Joel was a charter member of the Kilties, from Racine, WI, when they reformed as a Senior corps in 1993. When not marching with the corps, “Lothar” worked as a chef at Amelia’s Restaurant in Milwaukee, WI.
The entire Drum Corps Planet family extends our thoughts & prayers to the Joel’s family, friends, and the Kiltie organization during this difficult time.
And I was there.
I was sitting in the Stadium Club restaurant with Russ and Tim and Jeff, along with Ellen and Jason (our newest tuba player) and Ellen’s friend Danny from Crossmen. We were sitting at a table by the window, so we could watch the beginning of Open Class Prelims while we ate our dinner.
We were almost done with our food, and were watching the Kilties and talking amongst ourselves, when someone from the next table over said that there was a member down. I looked out the window — and sure enough, peeking out from behind one of the diagonals, I saw a pair of legs and a kilt on the turf. A judge sprinted off the field, and one of the members in the back of the form stepped out of formation to check on his fallen comrade. Soon, a couple more people ran up from the sidelines to check on Lothar, some members were turning around to see what was going on, and a woman from the American squad (the members who hold and guard the American flag) came sprinting back from the front corner of the field.
Finally, the drum major pointed to the rightmost member of the formation and signaled him to lead the corps off the field. He looked confused and indignant — they weren’t even halfway through their show, after all — but the corps filed off the field and formed in a block off the endzone, waiting and watching.
Meanwhile, all of us in the Stadium Club had our eyes glued to the field. We’re all saying things like, “I hope he’s OK,” and, “Maybe he just passed out,” knowing full well that things were pretty bad if he hadn’t gotten up yet.
I forget exactly in what order the next couple things happened, but a man in a black jacket (the cardiologist, someone from the next table said) started performing chest compressions, and someone at my table said that the fallen man was being given Confession, at which point we all displayed horror and disbelief in different ways. I found myself staring at the scene with my hand over my gaping mouth. One person at our table crossed himself and started praying silently. Others were shaking their heads, stupefied.
The ambulance wasn’t there yet.
The ambulance wouldn’t arrive for another couple of minutes.
Finally, the rescue squad arrived, but they were ill-equipped to deal with cardiac arrest on the field. A moment later, the actual EMS arrived, and they rushed out and tended to the Kiltie. Finally, they strapped him onto a board, got him onto a stretcher, and loaded him into the ambulance. The lights were on as they drove away, which I had hoped was a good sign.
After the field had been cleared, there was a sense of loss at our table. Although we couldn’t hear the siren stop, we knew he was gone.
A dark cloud seemed to hang over much of the remainder of the evening. We finished our dinner and went back to our seats. The Kilties did go on again later in the show and, although their performance was emotional, it wasn’t as clean as the first run had been, and they ended up not making Finals.
After the show, in the hotel, we all found our resident LSM Kiltie, Kemo, sitting in a room with several other Lakeshoremen and dealing with Lothar’s death remarkably well. He’d had a few beers, but he appeared to be emotionally OK, saying that he himself would want to die either in bed or on the field, and that Lothar would have wanted the corps to perform again, as they did. Mainly, though, Kemo seemed content to watch our Prelims video and discuss the future of the Lakeshoremen. Granted, I don’t know Kemo as well as some, and he may have been holding back, or saving his grief for another time, or still have been in shock (as I might, had it been one of my former corpsmates).
There’s a first time for everything, I suppose, and this was the first time I had witnessed another person’s death. And on the marching field, no less. As I told Aaron, this qualifies as singlehandedly the most fucked up drum corps experience I have ever had.
Lothar: Even though I didn’t know you personally, I know you died doing what you loved. I salute you.