August 4, 2014 8:20 am

Safety concerns arise following death of festivalgoer at Boonstock in Penticton

VANCOUVER – The troubled Boonstock music festival is making headlines again after a young woman died of a suspected overdose.

At least 14 people were also treated for drug overdoses, including two people sent to hospital in critical condition.

RCMP say this type of incident does create a real safety concern for everyone at the festival and they want everyone to take steps to ensure their own health at the event.

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“I think the reality is that this type of incident can happen anywhere,” says Cst. Kris Clark with the Kelowna RCMP. “Any major event with this many people involved. Regardless of the number of security or the training, or the number of police that are at an event like this. You can’t monitor everybody the entire time and people are going to make their own choices.”

Police are not releasing many details about the 24-year-old Alberta woman who died at Boonstock, only to say that she took a “cocktail of bad drugs” and suspect one of them was MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly).

“Any time someone chooses to ingest a drug, any illicit drug, illicit drugs are inherently unsafe,” says Clark. “There’s no quality controls and you really never know what’s in that substance.”

This is the 10th anniversary of the Boonstock festival, but the first time it’s been held in the Okanagan, since it moved from Gibbons, Alberta.

However, this time the festival was denied a liquor license by the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch because they felt potential safety concerns identified with the Boonstock festival were not properly addressed.

The festival also lost a number of sponsors before it began. The security company hired by Boonsstock also terminated its agreement.

Despite the young woman’s death, many festivalgoers were enjoying the music and the atmosphere.

“If you’re doing drugs you can do them safe,” says one festivalgoer. “But if you’re not doing them safe then you’re ruining your time and you’re ruining other peoples’. Coming here and dying, it gives this whole festival a bad scene.”

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. “You can’t hold the festival responsible for actions of somebody on their own accord.”

The festival wraps up on Sunday.

- With files from The Canadian Press

 

© Shaw Media, 2014

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