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Girl dies at 10,000 Lakes Festival

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - A 17-year-old Wisconsin girl was found dead at her campsite while attending the 10,000 Lakes Festival at the Soo Pass Ranch near here.

Few details have been released by festival organizers or the Becker County Sheriff's Office, which issued a news release Friday afternoon to report the girl's death.

The cause of the death is unknown and sheriff's officials said they would withhold the name of the girl until her family had been notified.

The girl's campsite was within the festival's campgrounds and foul play is not suspected, the Sheriff's Office's new release said.

The girl's body is being sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office in St. Paul for an autopsy.

No other details, including when the girl was found, were available. In the news release, Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon said more information would be released as it became available.

Though details about the death were scarce, Emily Ruzicka believes the unidentified girl camped just a few spots down the road from her site in the Northwoods campground. Security blocked off the road in front of that site on Friday at about noon to make room for an ambulance and other emergency vehicles.

Ruzicka, a 31-year-old from Madison, Wis., had not heard that the girl died.

"Seventeen? Oh, god," she said. "That's just heartbreaking. I was so hoping that wouldn't be the case."

Word of the death was just trickling out Friday. Some campers, like 27-year-old John Quinnett of Chippewa Falls, Wis., were just waking up in the mid-afternoon and taken aback by the news.

"Really?" he said when told of the girl's death. "Oh, that's horrible."

Media access to the backstage trailers, where the festival organizers work from, was cut off early Friday afternoon and officials with 10K were unavailable for comment.

At last year's festival, two men were found dead on the Friday of the event.

Matthew Mark Osborn, 35, of Emden, Ill., was found dead at his campsite July 20, 2007. Ian Arvid Mortenson, 24, of Winona, Minn., was found unresponsive in a restroom behind the stage area later that day. Gordon said investigators suspected drugs played a role in Mortenson's death.

In an interview after the festival, event producer Chyrll Sparks estimated about 18,000 people attended the festival and said organizers planned to review possible safety improvements.

Before this year's festival, Sparks said about 13,500 people were expected to show up for four days of concerts and camping. Organizers faced a much higher permit fee this year, paying $20,000 to help defray the county's administrative costs.

The Forum and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.