The family of a young man who died of a fatal overdose at this year’s Rainbow Serpent Music & Arts Festival have slammed organisers for running what they say is an unsafe event.
22-year-old Jacob Langford died on Saturday night after reportedly drinking amyl nitrite, a toxic stimulant also known as ‘poppers’, which is intended to be inhaled, not consumed.
Paramedics were called to the scene of the five-day trance festival in Lexton, north-west of Ballarat, at around 9pm, but were unable to save Langford, who passed away at around 10:15pm.
His death marks the second fatality at the festival in the space of five years, and his devastated family are now pointing the finger at organisers.
“The festival goes way too long without affordable food and drink. With that much heat and dehydration, it does not equal a safe environment,” the Langfords tell the Herald Sun.
“He was an inspiration and adored by all, younger and older, and was a hero to his cousins, aunties and two sisters.”
Police are not treating Langford’s death as suspicious, but are calling for sweeping changes to the increasingly controversial psychedelic bush doof.
As well as the tragedy of Langford’s passing, this year’s Rainbow Serpent event was also marred by a spate of other incidents. 30 people leaving the festival were reportedly collared for drug-driving, six were charged with drug trafficking, a police officer was assaulted and two female attendees reported sexual assaults.
Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullen also told the Border Mail that paramedics treated “a significant number” of people for injuries and medical conditions, with a number being transferred to Ballarat Base Hospital with “fractures, breaks and hypothermia”.
That’s after another man suffered a fatal drug overdose at the 2012 event, the 2015 instalment ended with multiple drug and assault charges and last year had police questioning the future of festival going forward as a result of the “concerning” number of drug-related incidents.
Despite emergency services’ damning reviews, Rainbow Serpent was still ranked among the world’s 300 best festivals for 2016.
Speaking following the news of Jacob’s death, organiser Tim Harvey said, “Rainbow Serpent considers the safety of patrons a priority and we will continue to cooperate with authorities to determine exactly what happened in this situation.”
Harvey has since told the AAP that the festival plans to release a full statement about the tragedy in the coming days.
Meanwhile, a MyCause account has been set up to raise money to help Langford’s family with funeral costs, with almost $12,500 donated at the time of writing. You can help out by donating here.