RCMP say a 24-year-old woman from Leduc, Alberta has died as a result of a suspected drug overdose at the Boonstock Music Festival in Penticton.
Paramedics responded to reports of an overdose just before midnight Friday by the Kalamalka stage, while the band W&W was playing.
RCMP say she was rushed to hospital where she died of what appeared to be a drug overdose.
Penticton RCMP say they are concerned for the well-being of attendees at the festival, an event that attracts around 8,000 people.
“The Penticton RCMP have a very real concern for public safety at this event and fear there may be further overdose deaths if attendees do not take steps to safeguard their own health.
“Police are asking all Boonstock attendees to refrain from ingesting unknown substances and to ensure that they remain hydrated in the hot, dry, dusty conditions of the event grounds.
“Dehydration greatly increases the risks associated to overdose by alcohol or drugs, as does mixing drugs with alcohol.”
RCMP say there were at least a dozen other suspected overdoses Friday night at the festival. Two people were taken to hospital in critical condition, but have now been released from hospital.
The woman’s name has not been released, pending notification of next-of-kin.
Police are assisting the BC Coroners Service in the investigation.
The festival did not respond to a request for comment, but released the following statement Saturday afternoon:
“Late last night, we learned that one of our guests at the Boonstock Music Festival became distressed while dancing at one of our stages.
“Despite the best efforts of medical professionals, she tragically passed away at the Penticton Regional Hospital. We are deeply saddened by this news and we know that our communities will band together and keep her and her loved ones in our thoughts.
“The culture of a music festival is one that provides a place where everyone belongs, is welcomed and watches out for one another. We would like to acknowledge our security team and guests who were quick to find help and assist emergency responders.
“Lastly, and most important, we send our condolences to the loved ones of this young woman. We are deeply saddened by this news and send our thoughts and prayers.
The Boonstock Music & Arts Festival family (Boonstock organizers will not comment further on this matter out of respect for the family).”
Many of the concertgoers were unaware of the death on Saturday.
Thirty-two-year-old Steve McWilliams attended the festival and says many people do not have cell phones at the event, and communication is sparse.
“I have no idea of what happened or the situation, but it’s pretty horrible news,” says McWilliams, who owns a printing and design company in Calgary. “You can’t hold the festival responsible for actions of somebody on their own accord.”
“They have security here and medical personnel,” he says. “Overdoses unfortunately do happen.”
Liquor officials turned down Boonstock’s application for a liquor license due to “unaddressed safety concerns.”
The event wraps up Sunday.
- With files from The Canadian Press