Reveller dies after taking drugs cocktail at music festival

 

The organisers of a music festival where a young man died today after a suspected drug overdose say they "cannot control the choices of individual patrons".

The 24-year-old was taken to a medical tent at the Strawberry Fields electronic music festival in Tocumwal in the state's Riverina region about 12.15am.

Medical staff were told he had consumed a cocktail of drugs including GHB, MDMA and cocaine.

Revellers at the Strawberry Fields Music Festival. Picture: Instagram
Revellers at the Strawberry Fields Music Festival. Picture: Instagram

Shortly after the man suffered a cardiac arrest and died about 2am.

The organisers of Strawberry Fields said in a statement they could not control people's decisions despite implementing "harm minimisation" strategies.

"We have implemented every single harm minimisation strategy that is legally available to us, run in-depth education campaigns on the dangers of drug use, and worked closely with all stakeholders to ensure we are in the best possible position to prevent and manage an incident like this," the statement read.

"However, we cannot control the choices of individual patrons. We are begging people to stop and think about the ramifications of their choices on their family and friends and to stay safe."

Officers attached to Murray River Police District are investigating the circumstances surrounding the man's death. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Just two days ago, Strawberry Fields director Tara Benney told News Corp's The Ripple Effect promoters had spent millions of dollars installing emergency hospitals, private ambulance services, increased security and highly trained crowd carers to look after their hundreds of thousands of festival goers at events.

Ms Benney, who has been staging her alternative event in Tocumwal on the banks of the Murray River for 11 years, said they have proactively worked with local council, residents, police, ambulance and Rural Fire Services in the area to "care for every individual coming to our event."

Co-founder and producer of Strawberry Fields Festival Tara Benney. Picture: Supplied
Co-founder and producer of Strawberry Fields Festival Tara Benney. Picture: Supplied

"A lot of the crowd care people come to these shows to make a fundamental difference; maybe they had friends they weren't able to help and they believe if they do this, they could help save lives," she said.

Meanwhile police have charged four people with supplying drugs at the Festival X music event at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday.

As part of a trial, 13 people found with prohibited drugs were dealt with by way of a Drug Criminal Infringement Notices and fined up to $400.

A man who collapsed on a park bench and was unresponsive to police was believed to be the first overdose at the festival.

The reveller passed out just before 4pm outside the main entrance to Sydney Showgrounds.

The Strawberry Fields Music Festival started on Friday. Picture: Instagram
The Strawberry Fields Music Festival started on Friday. Picture: Instagram

Moments later, DanceWize NSW volunteers rushed over and frantically worked on the man, aged in his 30s, physically jerking and rubbing the man's chest and checking his pulse.

Paramedics were able to revive him a short time later and he was taken by buggy to the festival's medical bay.

About 8pm, emergency services responded to another suspected overdose with a partygoer treated on scene inside the Showgrounds before being driven by ambulance to hospital.

Police watch on as paramedics treat a suspected drug overdose at Festival X. Picture: David Swift
Police watch on as paramedics treat a suspected drug overdose at Festival X. Picture: David Swift

Festival organisers have been approached for comment.

Shortly before 4pm, three men were also arrested outside the venue.

Police officers carted the trio away outside the main entrance into the central command within the festival, though they did not reveal the reason for the arrest when approached by The Sunday Telegraph.

Festival X - headlined by Calvin Harris at the Sydney Showgrounds on Saturday - has been the subject of intense scrutiny by police with dozens of officers positioned at the main entrance.

Within the first hour of doors opening, police sniffer dogs had already signalled a detection of drugs on a number of revellers.

Hundreds of revellers are pouring into Festival X under the careful watch of police
Hundreds of revellers are pouring into Festival X under the careful watch of police

Dozens more officers from stations across Sydney were patrolling inside the festival, which itself had employed hundreds of security guards.

At the top of the list of targets for cops at the festival were young wannabe drug-fuelled partygoers attempting to smuggle illicit substances like MDMA into the event.

"The less drugs today the better," one officer told the Sunday Telegraph.

The operation comes just weeks after NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller flagged the force would not back pill testing at major festivals.

"Pill testing provides a false confidence to an individual that the drug they want to take is safe," Mr Fuller said on November 11.

"There is no such thing. All illegal substances carry the risk of harming, or ultimately killing, the user."

One man, believed to be in his 30s, was the main subject of concern from emergency services, after falling unconscious for about 10 minutes outside the main entrance to the Showgrounds before being revived and treated by paramedics.



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