FLORIDA: 2 Dead, 57 Hospitalized After EDM Festival

TampaBay.com reports:

Two people died after attending the Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium over the Memorial Day weekend, according to Tampa police. A 22-year-old man was hospitalized Saturday and died Sunday, Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty said, and a 21-year-old woman was taken to a hospital Sunday and died Monday.

While investigators await the results of toxicology tests, Hegarty said that police think the deaths “are related to the Sunset Music Festival.”

But those were not the only medical issues authorities dealt with during the electronic dance music concert on Saturday and Sunday, which was reportedly attended by 30,000 people. Tampa police said 57 people attending the event were taken to local hospitals.

“Obviously, that type of music tends to attract a certain type of fan that engages in certain types of drugs,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Tuesday.

The electronic dance music scene has a history of drug use and drug-related deaths, especially linked to the use of MDMA, the drug also known as ecstasy or Molly.


RELATED: Last month a Buenos Aires judge ordered the temporary closure of all nightclubs after five drug-related deaths at a local EDM festival. In 2013 then-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the closure of Electric Zoo, a three-day EDM festival held on Randall’s Island, after two attendees died from drug overdoses on the event’s opening night. The event was allowed to resume the following year after organizers agreed to broadcast an anti-drug PSA several times a night.

  • JT
  • medaka

    MDMA? I’m so old I used to get it from Andrew Weil when it was legal. Really.

    • Gest2016

      Nobody dies from “MDMA”. Its either some toxic Chinese junk or the result of alcohol consumption combined with severe dehydration. Correlation is not causation … I’m so sick of MDMA being blamed for deaths. Its good shit, when pure.

      • medaka

        Its good shit, when pure

        Indeed it was.

      • vorpal

        I mostly agree with you, but I’m not sure why you’re demonizing drugs produced in China. I’m willing to bet that most of the research chemicals sold throughout the world are produced in China, and I’ve had very good experiences with them.

        • Gest2016

          vorpal — before my kidney transplant I was on dialysis and would have died if the batch of chinese blood thinner I had gotten was from the “bad” batch which killed over 100 dialysis patients. It was knowingly produced with toxic / fake components and passed off on dialysis patients. I hear this same story time and time again out of China — putting lead, for instance, in childrens toys. They SEEM to have no concern for human life. Or just pure greed. Either way its unacceptable.

          • vorpal

            Alright… I’m willing to grant you have a point, and very glad that you didn’t meet with the misfortune of the bad batch to be here with us.

    • JB

      Early to mid 1980’s isn’t that long ago. It was only scheduled in ’85. Hell, I’m so old I used to get my acid & psilocybin from Sandoz … When it was legal . Really.

  • olandp

    I stopped going out many years ago when the biggest gay dance club in town started playing house music, which I’m assuming is EDM. I assume it is really great when on ecstasy, but if you’re not it is just boring.

    • CatApostrophe

      It’s incredibly dull without drugs. There are no hooks or strong melodies, just beats. I had my fun with molly/MDMA/ecstasy, but frankly, I’m pretty glad I’m done with it. It’s tedious scene.

    • Duh-David

      House is downright catchy when compared to EDM. Thankfully EDM has all but died on the gay circuit.

  • crewman

    Drug use can cause death, but that risk can be lessened with good information. I don’t know if it’s the situation here, but some of the deaths at other large music festivals were from dehydration. The use of Ecstasy in combination with dense, hot crowds and little ventilation has proven to be a fatal combination.

    • Gigi

      It’s much easier to blame these deaths on the drug itself. Officials wouldn’t want to educate people on the dangers of dehydration and lack of ventilation for fear of being viewed as “pro-drugs.”

      • Never Sucked Before

        This quote from the Tampa mayor says it all: “Obviously, that type of music tends to attract a certain type of fan that engages in certain types of drugs,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn”

        • Gigi

          The same could said of NASCAR or the NFL. “Obviously, these types of events tend to attract a certain type of fan who engages in certain types of unsafe behavior like binge-drinking and driving while under the influence.”

          • Chuck in NYC

            Or open-carrying.

          • lattebud

            And breeding

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    • vorpal

      As someone who uses a lot of “research chemicals”, which comprise many of the drugs commonly used in these electronic music festivals, you have to know what you’re doing, be prepared, and do your best to minimize risk.

  • Todd20036

    Ecstasy usually doesn’t kill, but it can dehydrate you.

    Dancing in a crowded dance hall surrounded by thousands of other sweaty people – I remember getting overheated and needing to take frequent water breaks, and I don’t “roll”.

    If you are using and don’t hydrate, you really can die of thirst on the dance floor.

    • That’s only if everyone knows exactly what they are getting. Usually this stuff is not pure MDMA and you can dehydrate and die especially if you are drinking alcohol too. There was a recent article about how many people who think they are taking Molly are just taking bath salts. This is why drugs should be legal.

      • Gest2016

        The new European MDMA is supposedly extremely pure, a reaction to the dangerous junk laced with Fentanyl and other deadly drugs coming out of China. As always, China will make a buck even if it kills, Europeans going after the premium $20 a pill crowd with the pure stuff.

        • Yeah but how do you know what you’re getting?

          • Rillion

            In some European countries the club/event can have a testing site so you can check and know what you got so that don’t ingest unknown substances. But here harm reduction mrasures like that aren’t allowed because it is better to pretend something you don’t like isn’t happening rather than admit it is happening and try to make it safet (/puritan logic).

          • Joe knows who I am.

            Test kits.

          • catherinecc

            > Test kits.

            There are test kits on the market that can reliably detect fentanyl or especially W18.

            Shambhala/Ankors talked about this earlier this year.

            http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/shambhala-music-festival-drug-testing-fentanyl-w18-1.3587796

          • vorpal

            I would never take a random pill at some rave, no matter what I was told that it was.

            I just order my own research chems online from reputable vendors, and thus know what I am getting pretty precisely.

          • ZhyKitty

            I hear you about not taking something random, but my daughter and her friends just got back from one of these 3 day camp-out rave events, and she was telling me how good the molly, the acid (taken on different nights), ketamine, etc were that they scored there.
            (Very reasonably priced, too, considering.)
            While it’s dangerous to shop at a festival like that, these kids are doing it every time they go to these events, so it would be nice if we could make it safer for them. Remember that when we’re in our 20’s, we think we’re immortal, and we always think bad things will only happen to OTHER people, not to us.
            Taking risks is part of being their age. They all want to get fucked up and dance to ‘wub wub wub wub’ music, and not think too much about the risks.
            I’d like to see us get some of those testing stations, etc and see these festivals held to some basic safety standards – like cold rooms and water stations. A lot of these deaths and hospitalizations are completely unnecessary and could be avoided with some basic common sense on behalf of those in charge.

          • catherinecc

            > I’d like to see us get some of those testing stations, etc and see these festivals held to some basic safety standards – like cold rooms and water stations.

            Bears repeating.

          • vorpal

            Full agree with you as usual, ZhyKitty, and your reasoned approach.

            Hope all is well with you and your large fluffy family!

        • vorpal

          I still disagree with your assessment as to where the danger is introduced: for example, the fentanyl analogues shipped from China are generally of high purity, but obviously difficult to use responsibly due to the fact that some of them are active at sub-milligram dosages.

          When they are passed off as heroin or another opioid in Europe / North America is when they become dangerous, but that’s hardly the fault of the Chinese: it really is more of a consequence of the aggressive war on drugs in western culture.

        • catherinecc

          > As always, China will make a buck even if it kills,

          China’s profits are relatively minimal.

          Scummy dealers get some untested analogs for $2-3k a kilo from shady as fuck labs, don’t spend $150 on getting it mass specced, don’t do a good job of mixing the substance and pill pressing – and mislabel these drugs to make a bit more money.

          But those profits don’t go China. It’s scumfucks at home who do this.

      • Todd20036

        Well there’s that too. I’ve heard of dealers spiking the X with more addicting drugs like heroin to get users hooked.

        X isn’t too addicting in and of itself.

    • John T

      Do these events still confiscate your bottled water at the door so they can charge you like $8 for a cup of water? I remember that was a thing back in the day but it’s been ages since I’ve been to a rave.

      • Chuck in NYC

        All the large clubs in New York had water fountains from the 70s until some time in the early to mid-90s. Studio 54, The Saint, Twilo — just a few examples of clubs that all had a water fountain somewhere. There was even a water fountain at the first Pavilion at Fire Island Pines.

        I assumed it was a requirement by state law and that club owners managed to get rules modified. Whatever, the last time I saw free water served was out of pitchers at the bar at Occupy the Disco at Le Bain this past winter — and I was kind of pleasantly shocked. That’s not exactly a high drug-using event, though, and people were spending a lot of money at the bar anyway.

        • John T

          In my state bars and clubs are required to offer free self-serve drinking water. And I’m pretty sure that rave parties thrown in spaces like warehouses that aren’t usually set up to be proper clubs are required to offer free water as well, although apparently in a lot of places this is not a requirement. Bizarre that you need a law to prevent short-sighted party promoters from encouraging kids to die of dehydration on the dance floor.

    • catherinecc

      > I remember getting overheated and needing to take frequent water breaks

      A bunch of scummy organizers like Life in Color / SFX ban camelbaks, turn off water fountains, “run out of water bottles” and have only one place to get non alcoholic beverages – and usually only end up selling stuff like red bull.

      It’s a recipe for disaster, motivated by greed. We’ll likely see the same thing here.

    • Spudger

      The best clubs/events i’ve been to both subsidize water prices and provide a table with orange slices and bananas, or otherwise invest in keeping patrons full of electrolytes and water. Pretty much anything you’d need to keep a soccer team from passing out in summer during a game will lower your overall incident count dramatically.

      Also, one of the better innovations are training staff to monitor patrons – not actively for drug use, but for signs of distress/overdose/overexertion. The tone of their presence is “we’d prefer you not, but if you do, we’ll keep you safe the best we can”

  • Jmdintpa

    I would bet that what they took was not MDMA but some street recipe of bath salts and god knows what else. Its happening all over here in Florida. Synthetic Pot and these Bath Salts are causing all sorts of trouble. Then you get on a dance floor and its already hot and humid down here and start going at it then I could see overheating etc.

    • JB
    • vorpal

      “Bath salts” isn’t really a well-defined term.
      Many of the phenethylamines and tryptamines are quite safe.

      • JB

        “Many of the phenethylamines and tryptamines are quite safe.”

        Provided you get the dose correct… and then are you taking into consideration the residual amount of 5-MeO-DMT left over in the glass from the first 2 people when they smoked their 6 mg. each …???
        What about the third person once he’s had his glass loaded up with another 6 mg. ? What’s his final dosage ? Thats a tryptamine that isn’t at all forgiving and yet is easily obtained on the ‘Research’ market.
        I’ve done way too much trip sitting to ever let my caution down for even a moment when it comes to ‘Research’ chemicals. If you don’t know it already, read the short history of the phenethylamine known as DOM.

        • vorpal

          Okay, I agree with all of this, but as someone who orders his phens and typts at a high purity, has a mg precision scale, and then divides up into independent, labeled glasses (to be taken orally with a solvent of water or small amount of alcohol depending on the substance) that are disposed of after consumption, and who doesn’t bump, my point is that the actual phens and typts in and of themselves are generally not harmful or damaging to their body; not taking the proper care in consuming may well be, and perhaps the point you are making that that is easy to do has merit.

  • Octavio

    Kids these days . . . someone needs to give them in-service training on how to measure their ketamine dosages.

  • Todd

    Headlines like this do not even need the word ‘Florida’ ……

    If it is seamy, sketchy, trashy …………. it happened in Florida.

    ….. https://iwanticewater.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/wtf-florida-set-2-08.gif

    • Todd20036

      “Seamy, sketchy, trashy”

      My kind of place!

  • ColdCountry

    And they say Woodstock was bad….

    • tomfromthenews

      “Attention… attention… do not take the brown acid…”

  • bkmn

    Its time to start holding the organizers of these events liable. They are profiting off of people dying. At a minimum they should not be charging exhorbitant prices for water to a captive audience.

    • Spudger

      This x1000 – It’s all well and good to say “people shouldn’t do that!” – but humans have been seeking altered states since our proto-human ancestors figured out you could get a fun sensation out of spinning around in circles.

      Idealism should not be policy. Policy should be made based on the recognition that no prohibition is perfect, and the failure case needs to be accounted for. The best events I’ve been to have been ones that take a pragmatic approach. Provision of water at low cost (or free), simple snacks and electrolyte sources to make sure that patrons have calories and hydration to stave off even non-drug related overexertion, staff trained in handling common drug mishaps on site.

      These aren’t difficult things, they just cut into the bottom line – but what’s cheaper? Bananas and orange slices and not taking a 200% profit on bottles of water? Or getting your event shut down and your venue’s permit yanked. 😛

  • My personal preference …

    • TuuxKabin

      Daffy’s (one of) da’ man! Him and Bugs. We were just watching Bugs Bunny and his pals performing various operas. So clever.

      • Robincho

        “Oh Bwoonhiwda, you’we so wovewy”… 😉

        • TuuxKabin

          My point exactly!

    • ZhyKitty

      I’ll take two hits! lol
      Oh, to be young again…

    • catherinecc

      If Daffy doesn’t glow under a UV light, you can go wrong…

  • cubscoutii

    If they cancel the festivals people will just go back to the way of the 90’s underground rave scene. It doesn’t matter people will still party. Unfortunately some people shouldn’t “party” or know how to safely party.

  • jo gerardo

    As a teen, I bought a clay vial of powdered mushrooms from an Indian woman in Tampico. Lick your fingertip, dip it in and lick it off. It gave you a lovely trip, dipping three times sent you to the hospital like my pal Eddie. Peyote was the best, if you could stand the bitter upchuck. As for me, just don’t bogart that joint.
    Damn Whippersnappers! Get ye back to the basics!

    • vorpal

      It doesn’t sound like psilocybin / psilocin containing mushrooms if it could send you to the hospital, as those mushrooms are incredibly safe.

      I agree that mescaline is pretty awesome, but quite nauseating in the early stages :-).

  • Anyone surprised? Anyone?

    Personally, I think it was the ‘music’. EDM has devolved into the background noise in a Michael Bay movie.

  • charliebkk

    I guess I’m just a cranky old fart, but I’m more of the opinion that it’s the so-called “music” that causes these deaths rather than the drugs. I can listen to this crap for about 3 minutes before I must go back to something that involves actual musical instruments and human voices.

    • I have to agree. I remember when people used to sneer at disco back in the 1970s, but disco doesn’t hold a candle to EDM when it comes to sheer vapidity.

      • leastyebejudged

        Hey, it’s not a contest !

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    M’eh, natural selection doing what natural selection does.

    • Spudger

      Is it tiring? Having absolutely zero vices and never engaging in a single behavior that isn’t good for you? Is perfection exhausting? Or do you get used to it.

      God save us from Perfect Internet People. 😛

      • Jean-Marc in Canada

        Not at all perfect, I have many faults, just ask the husbotter. I simply can’t get worked up about something that happens rather consistently at raves, EDM events, hell, even at Pride. People took a risk and died, why is this a shock? And I say that as someone who has done his fair share in his day. I skydive knowing full well the price I could pay and I accept that risk. That my recognition of reality bothers you is of no consequence or significance, so why get upset?

        • Spudger

          If your chute didn’t open, im sure your husbotter would feel pretty awful if people started spouting off callously about “natural selection” in relation to your death.

          And just to keep with the skydiving – your rig likely has reserve deployment – a recognition that sometimes, risk results in failure – but that failure can be reduced, mitigated, even avoided.

          If you don’t care about people who die at EDM festivals, then don’t comment on them. The rest of us would like to have a practical discussion about how these things can be mitigated and even avoided in real-world scenarios.

          • Jean-Marc in Canada

            Seriously, you actually compared skydiving with drug taking, talk about a leap of logic.

            As for commenting, I will do so as I see fit and will certainly not be lectured to by some anonymous poster on a comment thread.

          • Spudger

            You go right on owning that prissy little bitch persona then, and being all surprised when people take offense to the awful things you say in public.

  • jomai

    This is what happens when you run groups like dancesafe out of town… Pretending people aren’t using, refusing to educate them about use, and taking away good resources = death.

    • Homo Erectus

      Kinda like teaching sexual abstinence.

  • lattebud

    Wanting to see what the “cool kids are doing” – I attended an EDM festival for a night with my 26 yo niece (who happens to be sober). Yes, there was a ton of people on something to enhance the experience, which I am not opposed to. However, when someone in a group wandered off alone or was on the verge of collapsing, no one seemed to care. A young man whose skin was bone dry in this stinking hot place was going to “Go get some air” and his friends just waved at him. There were oblivious that he was showing symptoms of heat stroke. I caught up with him and convinced him to go to the first aid tent. My fears were confirmed and he was carted off the hospital. I went and told his friends and one said to me, “Oh, thanks. He will page us and tell us where to meet him.” Absolutely no concern over his well being and the assumption that someone else will take care of him.

    BTW – The kid sent me a massive Omaha Steak gift pack and a thank you note. Now that’s a cool kid.

  • finninnj

    Just based on basic mortality rates, about 1.1 people out of 30000 people are expected to die in a 3 day period in Florida for the age groups that frequent such events.

    • leastyebejudged

      The rate is going to be significantly lower when adjusted for the average age of those in attendance.

      That being said, what people died of is more significant.

      Also, you can’t really dismiss the numbers of people collapsing, being sent to first aid tents, and being sent to the hospital. None of that is very average and local authorities should probably be a little more proactive in the future when it comes to these types of events.

  • JCF

    I kinda like EDM…but the festivals do seem to be a Darwin Award competition…