Comic-Con and Twilight Fan Death Spark Calls for Event Changes

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(Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)Attendees walk the convention floor at the pop culture event Comic Con in San Diego, California July 22, 2011.

A Comic-Con Twilight fan's death this week has sparked calls for the event to undergo some major changes with the way it's organized, and in particular with the way in which the landmark event deals with early bird fans.

"I think we're already seeing yet another clear sign that there needs to be some changes in how certain things are run," a Comic-Con veteran Alan Kistler has said, according to CNN.

"People started lining up for Hall H on Monday," Kistler said. "Not only is that absurd, it's already proven to be dangerous as one person has actually died. Yes, she was jay-walking and didn't have the right of way. But I don't think she or anyone else should have been allowed to line up so early anyway. It's absurd and it's not a place free of traffic."

This week a "Twilight" fans belonging to a Comic-Con group called "Twi-hards," devotedly brought sleeping bags, snacks and comfy chairs to the San Diego event and waited on the lawn adjacent to Hall H for official lines to begin. They did this despite event organizers' recommendations that fans not line up before an official queue opens.

However, tragedy struck when a 53-year-old "Twilight" fan, Gisela Gagliardi, was killed near the event convention center as she crossed the intersection at Harbor Drive and Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego just before 9:30 am on Tuesday.

Gagliardi was crossing the street against oncoming traffic that had a green light when she tripped and fell against a moving car. She was quickly attended to by medical staff, and was on route to the hospital when she died from her injuries.

The event has shocked organizers and fans, and has highlighted the chaos often surrounding the pre-event as thousands gather for the annually packed event.

The tragedy has surprised many as Gagliardo was not what most would associate as a typical "Twi-Hard." Over recent years some have scorned at "Twilight" fans being part of Comic-Con as traditionally superheroes and comic book characters have been the central focus, rather than vampires. However, Gagliardo was in her 50's and was not an irresponsible youth getting too hyped up and overly-excited at the unfolding events and stars coming out. Most Comic-Con fans can relate to Gagliardo; a simple fan camping out days in advance to get a spot in line, interacting with fellow fanatics, and getting her geek on about something she loved.

In the aftermath of the tragedy many are being more consciously aware about safety of fans arriving in their thousands, with some even calling for future events to provide more to ensure the safety of the scores of early bird fans that turn up days early.

Comic Con fans have created a #RIPTwiFanG hashtag and expressed condolences to Gagliardi's family. A fund has been set up to assist her family with funeral costs and fans are petitioning for a moment of silence during Thursday's Twilight panel.