Tragedy has struck at Lost Paradise Festival on the NSW Central Coast, where a young man has died and two other people have been hospitalised after ingesting an “unknown substance”.
A 22-year-old man from Queensland was rushed to Gosford Hospital at around 8pm on Saturday but died a short time later, while a man and a woman are reportedly still there in a stable condition.
“This is a very distressing incident and our sincerest thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the deceased,” festival organisers said in a statement to Music Feeds.
“The matter is the subject of a police investigation and we will continue to cooperate and provide whatever assistance we can.”
Their statement continues:
“Lost Paradise is a strictly drug-free event that is about celebrating life, love and nature in a fun, safe and welcoming environment.
“A great deal of planning and effort goes into ensuring the safety and welfare of our festival-goers and event staff. We work closely with local police to try to ensure festival-goers respect our drug free policy and NSW Ambulance to provide extensive medical support across the festival site.
This year, we have also engaged DanceWize NSW, a NUAA program that is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health to educate people on the implications of drug use, and offer peer support and health resources.”
But police reckon there will now be “ramifications” for the festival, despite their best efforts to safeguard punters’ welfare.
“It’s a tragic event and there will be ramifications, one way or another, for the credibility of the event,” Acting Superintendent Rod Peet tells the ABC.
An estimated crowd of 11,000 are currently attending the camping festival in Glenworth Valley, which kicked off on Friday and runs til New Years Day with performances from the likes of Joey Bada$$, Peking Duk, Tash Sultana, M.I.A., The Kooks, Pnau and more.
Police conducting a drug dog operation have so far slapped 50 people with Field Court Attendance Notices for drug possession and another seven with cannabis cautions.
An additional three people have been charged with drug supply offences, including a 21-year-old man from Drummoyne who was allegedly found with 105 MDMA pills, and a 23-year-old man from Elanora Heights who was allegedly caught with 80 MDMA pills and six bags of cocaine.
A police investigation into the death at Lost Paradise is ongoing, with a report to be prepared for the coroner.
Meanwhile, the national campaign for drug law reform Take Control has responded to the tragedy by once again pleading with the NSW liberal government to make music festivals safer by reconsidering their staunch opposition to pill-testing.
“This doesn’t need to be the summer of festival deaths,” Ted Noffs Foundation CEO and campaign spokesperson Matt Noffs said.
Take Control are urging to sign an open letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, essentially begging her to listen to the evidence and reconsider trialling life-saving pill-testing measures at NSW festivals.