Electric Zoo Deaths Confirmed as Drug Overdoses

Authorities rule hyperthermia and MDMA were to blame

Ecstasy pills.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs/Newsmakers
September 13, 2013 10:30 AM ET

The deaths of two concert-goers at this year's Electric Zoo Festival were the result of drug overdoses, the New York City medical examiner's office has ruled. Olivia Rotondo, 20, and Jeffrey Russ, 23, died August 31st from an overdose of MDMA, or Ecstasy, and hyperthermia, The Associated Press reports.

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The fatalities prompted city officials to cancel the last day of the three-day festival on Randall's Island (refunds were made available). Four other attendees were reportedly hospitalized, and 31 were arrested. The tragedy came just a week after 19-year-old Brittany Flannigan died from similar causes while attending a Zedd show in Boston.

As Rolling Stone recently reported, those who take Ecstasy or MDMA, particularly in its more pure powder form, Molly, often have no way of knowing whether the drug is real or what it could be cut with. This year alone, 20 people have  died in the U.K. after taking Ecstasy pills that contained PMA, a more toxic drug that mimics the effects of MDMA. In the States, a group called DanceSafe recently tested the MDMA at festivals and found half their samples to be fake (the group also provides fans with testing kits online).

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