Dead teen’s final moments revealed
The final moments of a teenage girl who died from a suspected drug overdose at a Sydney music festival have been revealed.
Alex Ross-King, 19, died in hospital after attending the FOMO music festival in Parramatta.
She had been dancing in the 35-degree heat, surrounded by people taking illicit drugs and drinking alcohol before she collapsed.
"Everywhere I looked people were on drugs and drinking a lot of alcohol so it's scary that it could be one of my friends next," one festivalgoer told Nine News.
It is understood the teenager presented herself to the medical tent when she wasn't feeling well.
Police said she was rushed from the Parramatta Park event to Westmead Hospital about 6pm on Saturday, and died later on Saturday night. The circumstances of her death are currently being investigated with a post-mortem conducted early next week.
Police are currently waiting on toxicology results, but believe the teenager's pills contained MDMA.
FESTIVAL ORGANISERS UNDER PRESSURE
Ross-King's death marks the fifth person to die from a suspected drug overdose at a NSW music festival in four months, and police are cracking down on event organisers in response.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones announced that police will kick off a "more robust process" from March this year, where organisers will have to convince them that they have appropriate measures in place in relation to safety and security - particularly in relation to health aspects around events.
"We are reviewing these music festivals literally daily," Mr Jones told reporters yesterday.
"We're trying to detect prohibited drugs, making it really clear to organisers they have to put in good practices to try to prevent the use and bringing in of drugs."
An estimated 11,387 attended FOMO - officers searched 146 people and found 54 of them with drugs. Another 23 were ejected, mostly for intoxication, while 28 were refused entry.
Mr Jones said police don't have a problem with the festivals per se, but have a problem with people bringing in illicit drugs.
"It's a small percentage of those that undertake this risk-taking behaviour," he told reporters.
"Please think carefully before you induce drugs in these fashions. Enjoy the festival, but do so, please, in a safe, responsible manner," he insisted.
The festival organisers have expressed their sorrow for the girl's death.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our patrons of FOMO Festival in Sydney yesterday," the festival spokesperson said.
"Our most heartfelt and sincerest condolences go out to her family and friends."
The festival said it was working closely with NSW Police, and would continue its anti-drug messaging - "a message we're proud to deliver and will continue to do so with unwavering commitment in order to keep our beloved patrons safe."
TEEN'S FAMILY PUSHES FOR PILL-TESTING
Family members of the teenager have begged the government to introduce pill-testing as a way of potentially saving lives in the future.
"Premier, please: can we have this pill testing done. It's such a small thing to do, it's not hard. Let's try and get it out there," her grandmother Denise Doig told Network Ten yesterday. "If it saves one life - one life is a life. And these are children."
"Strong leadership isn't always about sticking to an ideological decision or a position when there's possibly mountain of evidence or advice that maybe something else should be tried ," added her uncle Phil Clark. "Strong leadership is trying something different."
The spate of recent festival deaths has led to an ongoing debate over whether pill testing should be allowed to check for impurities, with concerns a "dirty" batch of MDMA capsules is behind some of the fatalities.
But Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm against introducing pill testing at festivals, expressing her concerns that it "could have the opposite effect".
"In the absence of evidence, we need to keep setting out the strongest message that taking these illicit drugs kills," she told reporters in Sydney yesterday. "We ask young people not to do it."
The Premier convened an expert panel into festival safety in September 2018 after two people died at the Defqon. 1 event in western Sydney.
The panel was banned from examining pill testing but the Premier earlier in the month claimed the government gave experts "free rein" when considering how to reduce harm.
"We don't stop anybody looking at all the options and we always say to them 'You have free rein to give the government advice on the best way forward'," Ms Berejiklian said.
The government is implementing all the expert panel's recommendations including introducing harsher penalties for festival drug dealers.
Ms Berejiklian insisted pill testing gave drug users "a false sense of security".
"I hear what some people are saying but as a premier, as the leader of NSW, my job is to keep the community safe," she said.