At Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert in Rio de Janeiro last Friday, 23-year-old Brazilian and The Federal University of Rondonópolis (UFR) student Ana Clara Benevides died as a result of rising temperatures and conditions at the concert venue. Benevides, who had taken her very first flight to watch the singer perform during the South American leg of her tour, started feeling sick and was checked by the medical team on site before being transported to Salgado Filho Hospital. The cause of death is currently under investigation though Brazilian publication Folha de S.Paulo reported she died of cardiac arrest. She had taken her first flight ever to travel from the country’s center-west region to the seaside city to see the beloved singer. She also created a WhatsApp group to keep her family updated, sending photos and videos every step of the way, family members told online news site G1, the Associated Press reported.
With the ongoing heatwave in Brazil, the reported heat index on Friday was 138 F at the Estádio Olímpico Nilton Santos. Additionally, the concert go-ers were prohibited from bringing water into the venue, worsening the harmful effects from the heat. Benevides, who had posted on Instagram almost exactly a year prior quoting Swift’s “The Last Great American Dynasty”, was one of about 60,000 attending the Friday concert who felt the distress from the heat wave—many fans reportedly fainting and sitting under the sun for hours lined up outside the venue before the event, not to mention the heat inside the concert itself. The distress from the sweltering heat was evident at the concert so much so that the pop singer and her crew were even handing out water to fans mid-show.
Following Benevides’s death, an online group started a petition a “Benevides Law’’ that would make water mandatory at events like these. The pop star also announced the postponement of Saturday’s show due to the high temperatures. Saturday night’s show was rescheduled to Monday night. Time4fun, the event organizers, released a statement on their Instagram on Sunday with updates to the water ban—stating that plastic water bottles will now be allowed. Benevides’s father, Weiny Machado, expressed his grief for his daughter to Folha de S.Paulo saying, “I lost my only daughter, a happy and intelligent girl…I have no words to express my pain. She left home to fulfill a dream and came back dead.”
The senseless death of this young woman speaks volumes to the need to change the conditions for concert go-ers everywhere. Providing something as basic as water and being mindful of weather conditions that can impact those waiting in line before shows is vital to ensuring that a tragedy like this does not happen again.