The Worst Thing That Happened At Woodstock

Burned-out eyeballs, overpriced hotdogs, unplanned acid trips. Woodstock was plagued by a number of unfortunate mishaps and the results of bad planning, but there's one event that is a strong contender for the worst thing that happened at the legendary 1969 hippie hoedown: the death of Raymond Mizsak. And what a way to go. The 17-year-old was run over by a trailer hauling a tanker of raw sewage from the porta potties on the morning of the festival's second day.

But don't be too quick to blame the driver of the tractor. A 1995 article in The Times Herald-Record of Middletown, New York, reported how Mizsak himself had oh-so-wisely chosen a litter-strewn patch of ground to sleep on and covered his head with his sleeping bag. "The mud smelled like hashish, two inches deep. Sodden sleeping bags were churned up with cellophane, cigarette butts and discarded clothes," as the article describes the scene.

A helicopter was called in to take Mizsak to a hospital, but he was already dead by the time it arrived. "I don't think he ever felt anything. He was asleep," said Gery Krewson, who had tried too late to get the tractor driver's attention before Mizsak was run over.

The tractor drivers tried their best to work safely amidst the chaos

According to the original police report found by Time magazine, the tractor drivers who were tasked with cleaning up did everything within reason to make sure that the route was safe. "We went over this route twice to clear the passage of people and garbage before, trying to get through," said one of the drivers involved. "The first we noticed anything was when a person yelled at us. I saw the victim and yelled to get a doctor and ambulance."

The Newark, New Jersey, teen's failure to distinguish between a landfill and a campground was just one of a number of messed up things at Woodstock, and Mizsak's was one of two deaths at the festival. The other was that of 18-year-old Richard Bieler. The death of the Vietnam-bound Marine was initially attributed to a drug overdose, but author Myron Gittell suggests in his book Woodstock '69: Three Days of Peace, Music and Medical Care that Bieler died rather of hypothermia and an inflammation in the muscles of his heart, which could have been the side effects of taking Thorazine as a treatment for overdose. Luckily, these were the only deaths, and the most common reason for seeking out a medical tent at Woodstock was for a cut foot from dancing barefoot in the mud.