A man died from a suspected drug overdoses at the Knockout Games of Desinty party. Picture: HSU Events
A man died from a suspected drug overdoses at the Knockout Games of Desinty party. Picture: HSU Events

Teen dead after music festival

A teenager is dead and three others are in a critical condition after a horrific string of suspected drug overdoses at a Sydney 'hardstyle' music festival.

The death has prompted a desperate call from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for young people to consider the dangers of drug use.

The 19-year-old Baulkham Hills man, who is yet to be identified, had been partying with friends at the Knockout Games of Destiny dance party, in Sydney Olympic Park, when he fell ill on Saturday night.

He was allegedly found at the nearby train station in a "distressed state" and treated by medical staff.

NSW Police confirmed the man was raced from the station in Homebush to Concord Hospital, suffering from a suspected drug overdose but died about 4.30am on Sunday.

Two women, aged 19 and 25, and a man, were taken to Westmead Hospital after suspected overdoses, where they both remain in a critical but stable condition.

Police have just confirmed that two of the three have just come out of induced comas, but the third person remains in a coma.

The sold out event, run by event company Harder Styles United, attracted more than 18,000 people and was plugged as "the biggest indoor festival in the Southern Hemisphere".

The over 18's event, that sold out in just five days, featured 'hardstyle' or 'hardcore' music from artists around the world.

The party was split into four distinct groups of performers, who were tasked to "send their best Warriors to the Games of Destiny" to battle it out on stage.

There was allegedly more than 100 police officers, more than 140 security personnel and more than 50 ambulance officers hired for the event.

The company has not responded to a request for comment from news.com.au.

Police confirmed an additional 13 people were taken to hospital with drug-related illness "and a further 130 people sought medical treatment during the event".

South West Metropolitan Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell said the tragedy was "another reminder that there is no safe limit for illegal drugs".

"At this stage we're not able to say how many drugs the young man took but obviously it was fatal," he said.

"It is obvious to everyone that drug suppliers will do anything to make their money. They don't care whether other people's lives are at risk".

A dedicated strike force, codenamed Ruben, has been established to investigate the circumstances surrounding the teenager's death.

Several large scale dealers were arrested on site. An 18-year-old girl was allegedly found with almost 400 MDMA caps that were "internally concealed".

She was charged with supply prohibited drug and will appeared at Burwood Local Court next year.

Officers found 145 MDMA caps on a 25-year-old man, who was arrested and refused bail.

Three other people were charged with drug supply offences.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian responded to the tragedy this morning, saying she was horrified that young people weren't heeding warnings about the dangers of illegal drug use.

"I'm beside myself that young people aren't getting the message. Of course we want them to have fun, but we don't want them to take an illegal substance that kills them or their friends," Ms Berejiklian said.

She said she had been shocked and saddened by the death of the teenager this morning, but pledged to work harder "to get the message out stronger to young people".

"Unfortunately there's at least one family who we know are grieving and I want to extend my deepest condolences to that family," she said.

"I also understand that a couple of young people are still in hospital".

 

Gladys Berejiklian has extended her “deepest condolences” to the family of the man who died from a suspected overdose this morning.
Gladys Berejiklian has extended her “deepest condolences” to the family of the man who died from a suspected overdose this morning.

 

It comes just weeks after the release of recommendations from a state government-formed expert panel on ways to improve safety at festivals.

The recommendations were sparked by the death of 23-year-old Joseph Pham and 21-year-old Diana Nguyen from drug overdoses at the Defqon. 1 music festival earlier this year.

One recommendation the government recently implemented was an increase of the maximum penalty for drug suppliers to 20 years imprisonment.

"This is a serious issue," Ms Berejiklian said.

"If you supply an illegal substance and it causes serious injury or somebody's death, you could be locked up for 20 years."

She said the reforms which will be gradually introduced by the government will also extend powers to penalise event organisers if required.

"This means that from now on, not only are there penalties for people supplying illegal substances, but those who host these events have to demonstrate they're making them as safe as possible," she said.

Event organisers could incure fines for not hiring enough security personnel or ambulance officers.

But the weekend's overdoses haven't changed the Premier's mind about the introduction of pill testing across NSW.

"Pill testing wont mean it's completely safe, and I would hate to think that even after something is tested that somebody could die,: she said.

"That would not be a good outcome."

 

Joseph Pham, 23, died at the Defqon Festival in Penrith this year.
Joseph Pham, 23, died at the Defqon Festival in Penrith this year.

The Knockout Games of Destiny party is now under investigation by Strike Force Ruben, as police work to determine whether or the not the organisers of the event did enough to keep their patrons safe on the night.

Before the event kicked off on Saturday, HSU Events posted a video to their Facebook page, explaining what measures were in place to keep guests safe at all times.

Knockout Games of Destiny owner and director, Pete, assured guests that it was "going to be the most epic event ever".

"We have plenty of ambulances and medics and stuff, we go above and beyond any other company in this country in terms of safety," Pete said.

"We've got you covered, if anything is wrong with you, we've got the medics at the back of the arena."

South West Metropolitan Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell said the 19-year-old man's tragic death should serve as a strong warning to festival goers about the dangers of illegal drug use.

"Police and emergency services continue to send warning messages about illegal drugs, and many festival-goers are choosing to ignore them," Assistant Commissioner Thurtell said.

"There is no acceptable use for drugs - the message is clear,

"We will continue to have a strong presence at festivals and dance parties with the wellbeing and safety".



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