Music Festival in Washington Leads to Dozens of Drug Overdoses, One Death

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During a music festival last weekend, one man died and dozens were treated after overdosing on a drug called Molly.

The music festival was called the Paradiso Festival in central Washington at the Gorge Amphitheater. There were more than 25,000 people in attendance. To heighten the experience of listening to electronic music, many took Molly or Ecstasy.

Molly is a "pure" form of ecstasy, though more often than not, the drug contains a cocktail of other drugs. MDMA alone can cause dehydration, fever, and teeth chattering, and when that's combined with other substances, the risk of overdosing increases.

"They don't even know what they're taking," Quincy Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Michele Wurl said. "They take a hit and 30 to 45 minutes later they take a second. So they get them maxing out one after another…we're not talking about too much drinking or smoking a little marijuana." 

It is common for the small hospital to deal with overdoses during a music festival, but this one produced more hospital admittances than ever before. In all, the hospital treated and released more than 70 concert goers from Thursday - Sunday. At least 40 of those were related to drugs and alcohol. Those who needed intensive care were transferred to another hospital. 

One 21-year-old man died and three are in serious condition.

"We deal with the Gorge all summer long," Wurl said. "What we're seeing this year is much higher acuity - more severe - in the drug use."

There were 62 calls to police asking for help at the Paradiso Festival. Police arrested 23 people for a myriad of charges, including possession or delivery of controlled substances, trespassing, obstructing a public servant, assault and disorderly conduct. 

This amount of arrests is normal for a concert at the amphitheater, according to Undersheriff Dave Ponozzo. 

"Most in attendance were very respectful people to us and to one another," Ponozzo said. "I found them to be very social people, many of who went out of their way to thank us for being there."

Typically, Quincy Valley sees about nine patients a day in their emergency room, and they do not have an ICU.

Sources: CBC, Boston Herald