Just days ago a man tragically died after he suffered a cardiac arrest at Rainbow Serpent Music & Arts Festival in Victoria.
Now triple j‘s Hack program has revealed that the man reportedly drank amyl nitrite in the hours before his death. Victorian Police have also confirmed that the man was 22, but would neither confirm nor deny whether drugs were involved.
Superintendent Andrew Allen did however suggest that organised crime had to do with the man’s death. “We believe that organised criminals are infiltrating this event to prey on young people and as a consequence we’ve seen the death of a 22-year-old man,” he said.
Amyl, also commonly known as poppers, is generally inhaled rather than drunk, and is marketed and sold in sex shops and online as nail polish remover, or leather or DVD cleaner. The drug is often inhaled in clubs and at festivals in short bursts to give the user a quick rush to the head.
“People [inhale] it in recreational settings because it makes you feel a bit good for a short period of time,” said Clinical director of St Vincent’s Hospital’s Alcohol and Drug Service, Nadine Ezard.
“Mostly people don’t run into really severe problems like the kind that make people come to emergency departments,” Ezard said. “If people do something like drink a lot of it, it can have a really toxic effect.”
Superintendent Allen didn’t hold back in his criticism of the event, labelling behaviour by punters “completely unacceptable” over the weekend which saw two sexual assaults, more than twenty drug-related offences and numerous assaults including one on a police officer.
Speaking with Hack, Greens leader Richard Di Natale who attended the festival renewed calls for pill testing at music festivals, while harm reduction advocate Dr Stephen Bright said most attendees were “extremely well behaved” from his perspective as a volunteer over the weekend.
UPDATE 03/02/17: A Rainbow Serpent Festival organiser has spoken out for the first time since the 22-year-old man’s death.