The third and final day of New York City’s Electric Zoo music festival was canceled just hours before the third day of the festival was to start after two concert-goers died and at least four others were hospitalized due to drug-related causes, police said.
The city said it recommended the music festival, featuring high-profile acts including Avicii, David Guetta and Diplo, end early after the deaths and illnesses during the first two days of performances on Friday and Saturday.
While a cause of death has not been determined in either case, according a press release issued by the city early Sunday morning, “both appear to have involved the drug MDMA,” or Molly.
The New York Times reported that dead concertgoers were identified as 24-year-old Jeffrey Russ of Rochester and 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo of Providence, Rhode Island.
“Molly” is the street name of the powder or crystal form of the drug MDMA, a chemical most commonly known for its use in the drug ecstasy. Unlike Ecstasy, which has a reputation for being laced with everything from caffeine to methamphetamine, molly — a name shortened from “molecule” — is thought of as “pure” MDMA.
MDMA was first popularized in the form of Ecstasy. It was the drug of choice at raves and underground nightclubs in the 1990’s. The drug was often mixed with other ingredients, and the idea of “pure” MDMA captivated users. At that time, it was almost an urban legend, users would claim they’d tried pure MDMA or had it to sell, but it was as elusive as an ecstasy-induced hallucination.
By the turn of the century, pure MDMA went from fantasy to reality, and became known as “Molly.” Unfortunately, not all “molly” is pure MDMA either. Substances like MDPV, methylone, mephedrone and butylone have been sold as molly. Obviously there is no standardization testing for street drugs, so you never really know what you’re going to get.
Experts say that addiction to MDMA is rare, but the popularity of MDMA use comes with a lot of accidental overdoses because the drug induces elevated body temperature and increased heart rate. Those who overdose from MDMA drug abuse usually experience overheating, panic attacks, faintness, severe dehydration and loss of consciousness. Some people who have died from MDMA drug abuse have had body temps over 108 degrees.
MDMA use in 2013 tends to be centered primarily on the young, with most first time users between the ages of 16 and 25. The mainstream popularity of electronic dance music also contributed to MDMA’s rising reputation.
Mr. Russ, a Syracuse graduate, and Ms. Rotondo, a communications student at the University of New Hampshire, were both transported to local hospitals and pronounced dead shortly thereafter, according to the New York Times.
The event’s founders, Made Event, expressed condolences on to the families of those who died: “The founders of Electric Zoo send our deepest condolences to the families of the two people who passed away this weekend. Because there is nothing more important to us than our patrons, we have decided in consultation with the New York City Parks Department that there will be no show today.”
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