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5 Killed in Crash After Rave Had Taken Ecstasy

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Traces of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine and mind-altering Ecstasy, were found in the bodies of five teenagers whose car plunged over a cliff as they were leaving an all-night rave party in the Angeles National Forest, the coroner’s office disclosed Thursday.

There were no indications that the driver braked before the Toyota sedan ran off Angeles Crest Highway on Aug. 29, plummeting 1,200 feet down the mountain.

Four of the teenagers were thrown from the car. All five died of blunt force trauma, mostly to the head, according to the coroner’s report.

The deaths of the San Bernardino-area youths prompted calls for a crackdown on rave parties, where young people gather by the thousands for a night of dancing to grinding electronic music, and many take drugs.

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The tragedy figured prominently in a bail review hearing on Thursday for a USC drama student arrested recently on charges of selling 11,200 doses of LSD to undercover narcotics officers.

During a meeting with Drug Enforcement Administration agents in his Pasadena apartment, Hugh Scott McLetchie, 21, boasted of having sold LSD-laced snow cones at the rave to the five teenagers who died in the car crash.

“I was selling the snow cones they ate, and right after they ate my snow cones, they plunged to their deaths. Oh yeah, beautiful. It was beautiful. The drugs I sold them did it to them,” McLetchie said.

The remark came during a telephone call McLetchie received during the meeting. It was recorded by one of the agents who wore a so-called body wire.

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Although the coroner’s toxicological studies found no evidence that any of the five teenagers had ingested LSD, Assistant U.S. Atty. Christopher D. Johnson cited McLetchie’s comment during Thursday’s bail hearing as evidence that he is a danger to society and should be kept behind bars.

McLetchie’s lawyer, John E. Meyers, urged U.S. District Judge Nora Manella to release him to the custody of his family in the Boston area pending his trial, which is set for Nov. 12. But Manella, overriding the recommendation of a probation officer, refused to grant McLetchie bail, saying he was both a flight risk and a potential danger to the community.

McLetchie faces a minimum of five years in prison if he is convicted.


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