Fan's death puts spotlight on Comic-Con chaos, 'Twilight'
Traffic in San Diego's Gaslamp District on Tuesday, at the corner of 5th Avenue and L street.
July 11th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Fan's death puts spotlight on Comic-Con chaos, 'Twilight'

On Monday, 'Twilight" fans were already lined up to see the popular franchise's final panel Thursday at San Diego Comic-Con.

Far from a rowdy bunch, the "Twi-hards," as the fan group calls itself, quietly and insistently brought their sleeping bags, snacks and comfy chairs to the lawn adjacent to Hall H and waited for official lines to start, despite convention organizers' advice not to line up before an official queue could be organized for the historically packed panel.

One of those fans, 53-year-old Gisela Gagliardi, was killed near the convention center when walking across the intersection at Harbor Drive and Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego just before 9:30 am on Tuesday.

While crossing the street against oncoming traffic that had a green light, Gagliardi tripped and fell against a moving car. She died en route to the hospital.

Although not confirmed by San Diego authorities at this time, Gagliardi's identity was established by friends who noted she was a compatriot in the Twi-hard contingent. She went by @mad4hugh on Twitter and described herself as a "Lover of in no particular order: Twilight books, movies, etc., Hugh Jackman, Robert Pattinson, travelling, NYC, Australlia, cats...."

As more and more people attend Comic-Con, lines for panels have grown exponentially longer. The process for acquiring tickets and hotel rooms has become a complicated dance of online forms, refreshed browsers and lottery systems. And any return attendee can tell you, the snarl of automobile and pedestrian traffic around the convention center and the adjacent Gaslamp District is at once confusing and infuriating.

The fact that such a tragedy happened in the run-up to one of the most exciting conventions known to fandom has plenty of attendees soberly focused on the possible dangers to pedestrians - who can certainly be less than alert in the exhilaration surrounding Comic-Con.

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

"People started lining up for Hall H on Monday," he 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."

Twilight fans, especially those prepared to sleep outside for days as they wait to see the stars from their favorite franchise at Comic-Con, are a tight-knit group. Comic-Con has been a rewarding venue for them, but not always a welcoming one. Their presence at the convention for the last few years has been met with plenty of grumbling and consternation from fellow attendees who prefer superheroes to sparkly vampires.

A pervading attitude from other Comic-Con attendees that Twi-hards don’t count as nerds and don’t belong at The Con only highlights this fan group's steadfast and unabashed passion - leaving no doubt that they are in fact, fans, and therefore do, in fact, belong at Comic-Con.

Gagliardi wasn’t a teen girl, the sort of fan most outsiders assume to be a Twi-hard, but an adult with a career as an accountant. But she was behaving like a fan – camping out days in advance on a line, interacting with fellow nerds and geeking out about something she loved

Any nerd can relate to the fervor that takes over when you’re holding territory and waiting, waiting, waiting to see the first midnight showing on opening night, find the chase figure, collect the rare issue. It's hard to imagine such a tragic end to such a hopeful scenario.

"Twilight" fans are reeling from the news of Gagliardi's death. So are many other fans, who save money for a year in order to travel to San Diego, buy a ticket for Comic-Con and revel in four days of intense consumption of comic books, movies, television shows and schwag.

Comic-Con is an institutionalized affirmation of the things attendees love. It's an opportunity for up-close access to celebrities and to commune with more than 130,000 like-minded fans. It's a chance to be proud of the happiness these things bring, instead of being shamed for liking a character or a story to such an extreme degree.

While fans are steeling themselves against the chaos, they’re also remembering one of their own who was lost to it.

Hitfix.com writer and resident film geek Drew McWeeny tweeted, "Be careful in San Diego this weekend, folks. Nothing they're showing at #SDCCis worth dying over."

Fans created the #RIPTwiFanG hashtag and expressed condolences to Gagliardi’s family, as did “Twilight” actress Nikki Reed and Summit – the studio behind the vampire films. A fundraiser to assist her family with funeral costs has already begun, and fans are circulating a petition for a moment of silence during the Thursday Twilight panel.

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Filed under: Comic-Con 2012
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Janina Kacvinsky

    A sleeping bag's temperature rating identifies the lowest temperature at which a bag is intended to keep the average sleeper warm. When a bag is described as a "20 degree bag," it means that most users should remain comfortable if the air temperature drops no lower than 20°F. These ratings assume that the sleeper is wearing a layer of long underwear and using a sleeping pad under the bag.;*:.

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    July 4, 2013 at 10:17 am |
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    June 22, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  3. Lorena

    His initial armenugt is rather trivial since it is common knowledge that children under five have an innate sense of direction, much like a baby's inherent fear of heights. I'm all for making Ivy Leaguers feel stupid but how is pointing north going to save cancer (which will ultimately be achieved by social and intellectual elite).

    August 5, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  4. Cameron

    The higashi no eden moievs are almost freaking unwatchable, lets be honest here..There's no point doing a comic about it almost, everyones sick of the same crap that's never explained and the STUPID romance that makes NO GOD DAMN SENSE, lol.. Hi naked guy, I think I'm in love with you! Yup, that's all it took, I saw you!

    August 2, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  5. Alleen Launey

    Sleeping bags that are made from cotton are the best since they retain heat and warmth at a longer time compared to synthetic fibers. *,'`;

    Till next time
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    July 24, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  6. Bill

    It's sad she lost her life for a panel discussion. A simple solution would not to let people line up for these things that early. I've heard plenty of stories about folks not being able to get into a panel because of other folks sitting there waiting for their panel to start. What Comic Con should do is when you register for the weekend you get a badge or wristband for each panel you want. once those are gone too bad.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  7. Cate

    Is the driver of the car okay? I'm sure he/she was pretty shaken up after killing the person who jumped in front of the car. Sympathies to both families. Two seemingly random strangers meet at a pre-determined moment in time...

    July 16, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  8. Roger M

    Yeah that makes a lot of sense. It's is Comic-Con's fault that one out of 50,000 people there decided to run in front of a car. That is a HUGE stretch and the writer of this article just trying too hard to make some profound statement when there is none to make.

    July 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  9. Dave

    A 53-year old women still in love with "Twilight" books? OK, then.

    July 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  10. Emigdio Alvarez

    why didn't the close off the area around comic-con?!?

    July 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Dave

      Why was she crossing against traffic? Darwinism in action.

      July 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  11. Chris Morrow

    Her last tweet was my tweet about her camping. Check out my CNN iReport interview with her friends.

    The entire thing breaks my heart.

    July 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  12. 76565

    I don't know if this is a tragedy or a miracle. One one hand her family lost their mother, on the other hand, one less Twi-tard.

    July 13, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  13. wrenthefaceless

    Hmm pretty sure it was in the con rules this year that you couldnt camp out in a line.

    Though the first year of Twilight at the con i do remember the reg line going from 20 min to about 2 hours.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  14. anniet1111

    while i do love the twilight series very much, i can honestly say.... vampires do not sparkle

    July 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  15. Oh my

    Where was Edward to push the car away? If only San Diego weren't so sunny

    July 12, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  16. GetOutB4Its2L8

    Dying for what you love is one admirable. Just make sure its worthwhile and not fan-based.

    July 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • GetOutB4Its2L8

      *oops* This thing needs an edit option. Honestly, I don't really care, about any of this.

      July 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
      • SophyB

        And yet you post.......

        July 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
      • John

        We know, we know... you're only here because this is the only attention you ever get. Lucky for you, there are literally thousands of other articles available for you to post your sad little inane comments.

        July 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  17. CrazyMom

    Why didn't the stupid woman watch where she was going?

    July 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • AndriconBoy

      Because TWILIGHT! *rolls eyes*

      July 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
      • Joanne

        At 3am, when the cat kids decide that it might be a good idea to yowl for food, I might actullay agree with Little Buddha. For completely different, selfish and far more macabre reasons, involving my ability sleep. Then again, I love my cat kids, so they are priceless alive.

        August 5, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  18. Hugh Jass

    Aw ,she'll come back as a sparkle-vampire, so it's all good.

    July 12, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  19. Chris Honry

    Anyone with COMMON SENSE knows a 2 ton car will win every time against a pedestrian, rights are not the issue. Wanna be right and dead? Or humble and alive? Easy choice. NEVER assume anyone will give you the right-away, sure way to get dead. Amazing what people will give their lives for.

    July 12, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  20. The Ronin

    The thing that bothers me is that the author pathetically attempts to argue that comicon is the right place for twilight fans.

    I'm sorry, (no I'm not) but the Twi-tards are a festering boil on the face of comicon. They take up hundreds (thousands?) of tickets to attend ONE stupid panel, clog up walking lanes by camping out prematurely, and prevent others from enjoying the full con weekend. What a waste.

    July 12, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Lee

      What? I'm not a Twilight fan; but I am a 'nerd' and have been a collector of comics and a fan of sci-fi, fantasy and related pop culture for over 30 years or so. The kind of scorn you show the Twilight fans is the same kind of scorn that 'normal' people used to show towards 'nerds', before being a nerd became acceptable and mainstream. Get this sort of elitist garbage out of here, and take your 'oh so cool look I'm a masterless samurai' name with you. At the very least show a little respect for this person.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • MomofTeens

      Wow hard to imagine nerds being elitist! I'm not a Twilight fan, am in my 50's, have kids that don't know what Stars Wars really is much less Star Trek. Still remember the total absolute full body thrill of finding a new Star Trek novel on the bookshelf (early-mid 70's) and have to hide it while I read it or be made fun of. I can't imagine wanting to deny any fan a way to express that fandom especially is an open arena such as Comic Con. I bought a ticket to a Star Trek Convention in 1976 but my Mom wouldn't let me go because I would have had to take public transportation, go alone and I was only 14, kept that ticket for years. Anyone that can find that enthusiasm at any age deserves the right to enjoy every minute of it. So sad to end that way, my condolences to her family, friends and fellow fans.

      July 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • John

        @MomofTeens: Amidst all the typically ignorant and mean-spirited comments found on just about every comment board ever started, yours is absolutely beautiful. Might even print this one out...

        July 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  21. John

    Sad tragedy. That area of San Diego is very, very pedestrian unfriendly. San Diego really needs to do something about it.

    July 12, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  22. Sailor101

    I lived in San Diego for over 17 years, 12 of them whilst I was in the Navy, the SD Convention center is right in the middle to a very busy and heavy traffic area. Maybe the City of SD need to look into relocating the Convention Center. I understand that finding another area will not be easy, heck look how long it took to finally decide to move the Padres out of The Murph (Qualcomm Stadium for you out of towners) and into PETCO in the Gaslamp quarter.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  23. twitard69

    Wait a second here...the article states, "While crossing the street against oncoming traffic that had a green light, Gagliardi tripped and fell against a moving car. She died en route to the hospital." That sounds to me like she was jay walking, something someone of her age should know better to do in oncoming traffic. You can't protect the stupid, but I guess the press and twitards can blame comic-con and San Diego!

    July 12, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  24. El Frodo

    I thought Twitards pretended they were sparkly vampires?! Unless the car was a holy roller or driven by the Pope, she should have just gotten back up and laughed it off!

    July 12, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  25. james

    I stubbed my toe walking past a comic book store. Does that count?

    July 12, 2012 at 6:07 am |
  26. MattBMO

    How does this even have any connection with Comic-Con? People are killed jaywalking every day in cities around the country. It's tragic, but other than a nominee for the Darwin Award the convention has nothing to do with it. Somebody's trying to create a story out of thin air.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  27. KingHippo

    Can someone please tell me why Twilight is a part of Comic-Con in the first place? Is it just because it's a fantasy movie with fake vampires? If CC really needs to make changes, how about setting up standards as to what qualifies as appropriate CC material? It's called "Comic"- Con for a reason. If they eliminated all the trash that doesn't belong there, they'd eliminate a lot of the crazy, want-to-be fans with it. I sympathize with this "accident", but you can't blame CC for a careless, jaywalker.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Beth

      Because ComicCon has evolved more into a showroom for networks and producers trying to drum up money. They've encouraged attendance to grow for the money, such that you have to show up literally days in advance to any particular panel just to get a decent seat. Dragoncon is heading that way unfortunately as well, although they are committed to enough small panels that I hope they can stave it off for a few more years. Stick to the smaller, local cons if you want to have fun.

      July 12, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • kake79

      I completely agree that some standards need to be set. But, I have to grudgingly admit that Twilight at least has "fantasy" going for it. They need to get rid of tv shows and movies that have zero connection to comics/sci-fi/fantasy, like Dexter, Bones, Breaking Bad, The Big Bang Theory, and so on and so forth.

      July 12, 2012 at 10:51 am |
      • TJ

        The Big Bang Theory is not connected to comic-con?!? The characters in the show live for comic-con! They make weekly runs to the comic book store, constantly talk about and dress up as their favorite heroes, etc...

        July 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  28. cpc65

    She'll rise again on the next full moon.

    July 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  29. gailpowell

    San Diego is about to get seriously crazy with the onset of Comic-Con. I was down there 2 years ago to cover the Westboro Baptist protests and I could not believe the pandemonium. It is very sad that Gisela was killed but Comic-Con attendees need to really focus on safety and being careful. Harbor Drive is a busy street and the Gaslamp gets wild & rowdy at night. San Diego is a gracious host city and wants everyone to have a fabulous time this weekend. May the Comic-Con force be with you.

    July 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Raja

      Aw thank you so much! That really is wnoderful to read.I'm trying to get ahead with linearting pages for Kurai so we can update more quickly or catch up for what we've lost anyway. :)I'm a fan of a lot of other web comics so I can understand how annoying it is waiting for updates.*hugs*

      August 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Nemanja

      Hi ..I have recently saetrtd a web site, the information you provide on this web site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work. The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums. by Peter De Vries .

      August 5, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Gurwinder

      You might not like it as much anymore, as I chgaend the colours a bit and chgaend his head so he's beardless. People weren't reading him as human and my mum thought his beard was a mask or something.

      August 5, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  30. jake

    People don't understand the chaos that is SDCC. The lines are crazy and run by volunteers who are more concerned with ordering people around than anything else. Couple years ago, the line to get badges actually looped around itself and it was just a mad dash to the door. It was insane. There needs to be a better system. Online ticketing for larger panels and frankly- a higher price. Reduce the number of attendees, up the badge price by 50% and end some of the chaos. Start on Wednesday if they have to or move more programming to Sunday. Things have to change at SDCC. I went there for 10 years straight but it's not worth it anymore.

    July 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Kaylee6

      I think limiting the number of attendees is the first thing that needs to happen. That was the reason I stopped going to DragonCon. I spent most of my time in the smaller track rooms, where you could only fit about 40 people at a time, and most of the panels were fan discussions. But fighting the crowds to get back to my room, to get on the elevator–heck, just to get *to* the elevators. Even though it's a great opportunity to see a bunch of big names at once, it's not worth it any more. I've never considered going to CC just because of the numbers.

      July 15, 2012 at 11:00 am |
      • Sandra

        The part I like the best about the candlelight secirve is how it starts from just one candle and everything else is dark. Then slowly more and more candles are lit and the light grows. And eventually the whole church is light but light from candles. It's all glowing and beautiful. (And then the hot wax drips down on my hand and over onto the pew in front of me and I worry that the poor person in front of me is going to sit on the wax and ruin his or her good clothes.)

        August 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  31. Me

    How about it she had died in the same way while crossing to simply get to the other side? This story has nothing to do with comic on and everything to do with regular traffic on Harbor Drive and an unattentive pedestrian who probably thought she could make it without waiting for the light. Sensationalist 'journalism' alive and well at CNN.

    July 11, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  32. E.D.

    It's very sad to hear of this person's passing. A moment of inattention in crossing the street cost her her life. Alas, this happens all the time. There is nothing on the other side of any street worth losing one's life for. As for the fans who don't think 'twi-hards' should be at SDCC, well, too bad. Comic Con is an eclectic mix of fans of comics, movies, books, tv,anime, andd more. If anything, all the fans at the con should just take a moment of silence for this fan, because she was one of them. My condolences to her family.

    July 11, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Blue-Jay

      THANK YOU!!! It ticks the heck out of me to see these people who take a story about someone's death and how it relates to SDCC, and twist it around so they can rag on CNN's journalism. My condolences go out to her family as well.

      July 12, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  33. Jeff A.

    It so sad what happeand . Peope need pay attension while acrossing streets

    July 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  34. Mr.Morbid

    Im a fanboy and i hate twilight as much as any other true horror fan but to be so mean about someones death,thats harsh. What if i was a comic fan,or a little kid? would you still be so hateful?

    July 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  35. frillartist

    Another loser Twitard bites the dust. Good riddance.

    July 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  36. bob

    Jay walks and dies on the street. Good riddens to a stupid person who could not obey a single traffic law.

    I know, let's elect this person as a CNN here for stopping oncoming traffic with her body!!

    July 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Do as I say

      It's "good riddance". Now, who's the "stupid" one?

      July 12, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      "Good riddens to a stupid person" What are "riddens," and how do you elect a CNN? You write like a stupid person.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  37. downtownSD

    IIm sorry to hear she passed, it's very unfortunate. It's called Harbor drive, but it's more similar to a highway. Why anyone would choose to jay walk there is beyond me. I would assume someone of her age would know better. Sad way to begin comic con.

    July 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  38. gman

    So, some moron crosses a street into "on coming" traffic, trips and falls and hits a car and dies on the way to the hospital and it's blamed on Twilight (W.O.R.S.T. movie E.V.E.R.)
    WOW, way to twist facts into what you want CNN

    July 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Thmobile

      It's possible you didn't get many bids bceause your comics aren't that rare or valuable, or you didn't provide the information people look for when they buy comics from eBay, or perhaps you had a starting/reserve price that was unrealistic.eBay really is the standard way to go. You can also try craigslist so you can find interested buyers in your area who can pick the books up and hand you cash, that way you don't have to deal with shipping or online money transfers. Or take them to your local comic book store. Unless your comics are from before 1975, any other method of selling is rarely worth all the trouble Was this answer helpful?

      September 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  39. GoDucks73

    Jaywalking in San Diego.....natural selection at work. No sympathy for the stupid

    July 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  40. Colin

    My condolences of course but, did she drop any epic loots?

    July 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • otakualert

      Probably only a few coins. If you want loot gotta go after D&D fans.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      That's only WOW players.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  41. Elena

    I have a big issue with this story. Gisela may have made a mistake by jaywalking and lining up to early but if you read all the tweets no one blamed CC. It was a tragic accident. The fandom has acknowledge that it was a serious unfortunate event.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  42. CherylS

    Why is it Comic-Con's fault that she didn't pay attention to traffic and crossed against the light? That's like blaming Ford because someone drove his Mustang at 100 ph and died in a crash. Jeesh!

    July 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • CherylS

      That was supposed to read 100 mph...oops!

      July 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
      • Ietege

        Feeling like you this year I'm semi-veg (still eat fish) and my family is alawys worrying about what to make that I can eat. When what they should worry about is what they should be thankful for. (they do give thanks, but its not the main thing in their minds during that holiday) oh well this year I'm really emphasizing the thanking part.Thanks Ryan a great thanks giving day to you!

        August 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
      • Mileta

        There are some interesting ptonis in time therein clause but I don't know if I see all of them middle to eye . There is some validity but I will hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner besides.

        August 5, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Liz

      Totally agree. It's sad that a life was lost, and I do feel for her and her family. My condolences to them. That being said, if she had a habit of jay-walking and disobeying traffic laws, this tragedy could have occurred anywhere.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • NrK

      I completely agree as well! In no way should Comic Con OR Twilight be blamed for someone being careless. This really was a tragedy and so unfortunate, no one deserves to die this way. But this could have happened any where and any time (and it does, ALL OVER THE WORLD)!! You can't blame it on this event just because she was camping out to attend it.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm |