POMONA (CBSLA.com/AP) — Two women died from suspected drug overdoses at a popular weekend music festival, prompting calls for an investigation and concern over the use of narcotics at youth-oriented events.
The women, one 18 years old and the other 19, were found unresponsive on Saturday at the HARD Summer music festival in Pomona, about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
HARD Summer released a statement that reads in part: “One patron was suffering from cardiac arrest and the other from possible seizure symptoms. Event EMT, security, Pomona Police Department and L.A. County Fire Department responded immediately and took appropriate action to provide care as soon as possible. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and friends.”
They were hospitalized but died within hours of each other, authorities said.
According to the L.A. County Coroner’s Office, Tracy Nguyen, 18, of West Covina, has been identified as one of the victims.
The deaths appeared to be due to drug overdoses but autopsies were planned, coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral told the Los Angeles Times.
The two-day festival had sellout crowds of about 65,000 each day. The event was held at the Fairplex in Pomona, on land mostly owned by the county.
County supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Hilda Solis said they want to know whether the festival was managed in a way that protected the event-goers and would request an investigation.
“My prayers are with the family and friends of the two young women whose lives were tragically lost this past weekend,” Solis said. “I am deeply troubled by the fact that this is the third such death to happen in my district in the last year and a half.”
Solis went on to state she plans to introduce a motion to explore prohibiting these kinds of events on County-owned land until a full investigation into the case concludes.
Fairplex officials are “aware of the risks” and beef up safety measures when large events are held at the site, spokeswoman Renee Hernandez told the Times.
“We have protocols in place and our event promoters supplement Fairplex medical and security staffing during highly popular events in consultation and coordination with community public safety leaders,” she said.
Drugs and alcohol are not uncommon at music festivals, especially youth-oriented events.
“It is unfortunate that this kind of tragedy happens. People get carried away,” said Oscar Mendez, 19. “People try to fit in and they don’t know their limits.”
At least 19 people have died from overdoses or in drug-related incidents involving music festivals in California and Las Vegas since 2006, the Times said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise funds for Nguyen’s funeral costs.
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