Second Death Dogs Stereosonic

A second death at the Australia-based traveling Stereosonic EDM festival occurred at its Adelaide show Dec. 5.

for Adriana Buccianti, who lost her son at a festival in 2012. 

A bill including Armin van BuurenDiploMajor Lazer, Peking Duk, Kyro Axwell & Ingrosso, and Clean Bandit drew 11,000 to Bonython Park in sweltering 40-degree (104F) heat. Stefan Woodward, 19, died in Royal Adelaide Hospital after requiring medical treatment at the festival at 5 p.m.

Police said they found two orange pills imprinted with a dollar sign in his pocket. A second man was fighting for his life in hospital care following a reported overdose. Stereosonic, which emphasises zero drug tolerance on its website, released a statement saying it was “devastated to hear of another loss to drugs.” Woodward’s death came a week after the death of 25-year-old Sylvia Choi at the festival’s Sydney’ show Nov. 28. Daniel Dung Huynh, also 25, was charged in relation to her death to face court Jan. 13. More incidents followed the festival.

The Melbourne show, also on Dec. 5, ended with 60 drug arrests with six taken to hospital with overdoses, with a teenager in serious condition. In Brisbane, on Dec. 6, more than 125 were charged with drug offences, five with supplying. The latest incidents intensified calls for Australia to follow Europe’s lead and set up drug testing labs at music festivals to prevent overdose incidents. There have also been calls for police to stop the use of sniffer dogs at festivals, which possibly prompt panic-stricken patrons to finish off their entire drug supplies at once.

“Fuck this,” EDM duo Peking Duk posted on Facebook. “Heavier policing will not prevent deaths. Australia, it’s time to start testing.”

Matt Noffs, CEO of the Noffs Foundation which works with young people with drug and alcohol issues, exclaimed, “This is becoming ridiculous. We can start saving lives today. It’s #timetotest.” 

Similar calls came from drug experts as well as artists including rapper Illy, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr. Alex Wodak, Adriana Buccianti, who lost her 34-year-old son Daniel at 2012’s Rainbow Serpent festival (her petition is heading rapidly toward its 35,000 target), and Rainbow Serpent organisers themselves.

Rainbow Servant director Tim Harvey released a statement that said, in part, “While the purity and composition of illicit substances continue to be a focus for the police and media, we have concerns about any potentially unsafe behaviour including alcohol, prescription medications as well as illicit substances.”

According to a Dec. 7 report in The West Australian, three police officers who attended the festival in Perth tested positive for methamphetamine and ecstasy. Internal investigations were alerted by a tipoff. The three were stood down. Security firm Reddawn Security launched an internal investigation following reports that one of its guards took GHB during a shift in Sydney before being taken to hospital. Managing director Simon Auston said the company “takes the allegations very seriously.”