Two people died and as many as 57 more were hospitalized due to suspected drug overdoses over the weekend during the Sunset Music Festival in Tampa, Florida.
Katie Bermudez, 22, of Kissimmee Florida, died on Monday after spending two days in the hospital. Alex Haynes, 22 of Melbourne, Florida died on Sunday, according to the New York Daily News.
Reports suggest that between 30,000 to 50,000 people attended the electronic dance music (EDM) festival, which was held at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.
A spokesperson for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa told local NBC affiliate WFLA the number of people being admitted to the hospital for drug overdoses was “frightening.”
Dr. Tamas Peredy of the Poison Control Center attributes the overdoses to a trend at electronic and other music festivals where attendees succumb to the combination of synthetic drugs like “Molly,” or MDMA, and the intense humidity of the summer months in Central Florida.
“I think people need to realize when they buy something called Molly, it would be like walking into the store and buying soda and not knowing what was in the bottle,” Dr. Tamas Peredy told WFLA.
Tampa police reportedly arrested at least 33 people, and also issued 16 marijuana citations, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The festival organizers offered their condolences to the families and released the following statement:
The health, safety and welfare of our fans and community is Sunset Music Festival’s first priority and we take every measure to create a safe environment at our events. Any loss of life is a tragedy and we extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those affected. Due to the ongoing investigation by the medical examiner’s office, Sunset will not issue additional comments at this time.
A spokesperson for the Tampa Sports Authority, which manages Raymond James Stadium, issued the following statement:
We have received this information as you have through the Tampa Police Department’s release. We extend our condolences to these families for their loss. We will continue to work with the promoters of the Sunset Music Festival and local life safety agencies to provide the safest environment possible for their attendees.
The mother of the young woman who died told WFLA that her daughter could not have been high.
“We’re not even sure of what happened,” Nancy Bermudez said. “Nobody knows what happened. Everything’s so sketchy. Katie is not into drugs. That is not my child.”
Police have not yet launched a criminal investigation into the matter.
The music festival featured performances from electronic music artists including Hardwell, the Chainsmokers and the Skrillex-Diplo collaboration Jack U.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @jeromeehudson