These are the stories of 29 rave-goers who died of drug-related causes
There have been at least 29 confirmed drug-related deaths nationwide since 2006 among people who went to raves organized by Los Angeles-area companies. Fifteen have died in Southern California — seven in San Bernardino County and eight in Los Angeles County — and six in the Las Vegas area.
Here are their stories:
Joshua Johnson, 18, of El Cajon died Sept. 3, 2006, after collapsing at Insomniac Inc.’s Nocturnal Wonderland at the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino. The Grossmont College student became separated from his friend during the rave, according to interviews and a coroner’s report, and was seen by onlookers having a seizure. The coroner’s office said his body temperature reached 107 degrees. It concluded that the cause of death was Ecstasy toxicity.
Michelle Lee, a 20-year-old UC Irvine student, died Nov. 2, 2007, after attending Go Ventures Inc.’s Halloween-themed Monster Massive at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. She collapsed at the rave and her body temperature rose to 108 degrees, according to the coroner’s report. The coroner ruled her death was caused by multiple drug toxicity, citing use of Ecstasy and amphetamines.
William On, 23, of Monterey Park died Jan. 4, 2008, after overdosing at the Together as One rave at the Sports Arena. The New Year’s rave was jointly produced by Insomniac and Go Ventures. On suffered seizures during the concert and his temperature topped 107, the coroner found. The cause of death was Ecstasy intoxication, abnormally high temperature and multiple organ system failure.
Michael Phuc Nguyen
Michael Phuc Nguyen, a 23-year-old Anaheim resident, died Oct. 26, 2008, after attending Go Ventures’ Monster Massive rave at the Sports Arena. Nguyen was found “face-down and unresponsive,” the coroner report said. Nguyen never regained consciousness. The coroner attributed the death to multiple drug intoxication. Ecstasy and methamphetamine were found in his blood.
John Cramer, 23, a Pierce College student who lived in Canoga Park, died Sept. 27, 2009, after attending Nocturnal Festival at the National Orange Show Events Center. At the rave, his friends found him having seizure-like activity, the coroner’s report said. At the emergency room, his body temperature hit 107 degrees and his heart failed. The coroner said the cause of death was Ecstasy toxicity.
Daniel Cyriaco, 24, a Los Angeles computer programmer, died Jan. 1, 2010, after attending the Together as One rave at the Sports Arena. Cyriaco, who grew up in Beverly Hills and Brazil, was dropped off about 4 a.m. at his home, where a friend that evening found him unresponsive and cold to the touch. The coroner’s office concluded the cause of death was multiple drug intoxication. It said friends told investigators Cyriaco took Ecstasy at the rave. Ecstasy, cocaine and heroin were found in his system, according to the toxicology report.
Jesse Morales, a 22-year-old Midwestern State University student from Garden City, Kan., died June 23, 2010, after going to Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival at Dallas’ Fair Park, home to the State Fair of Texas. The medical examiner said that Morales collapsed at the rave and was admitted to the emergency room with a temperature of 108 degrees. The medical examiner said Morales died as the result of amphetamine toxicity.
Sasha Rodriguez, 15, a high school drill team member from Los Angeles, died June 29, 2010, after attending Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Rodriguez passed out during the rave and was in respiratory arrest after arriving at the hospital, according to interviews and the coroner’s report. She suffered shocked lungs and brain damage, the report said. The cause of death was Ecstasy intoxication and a resulting failure to receive enough oxygen to the brain.
Andrew Graf, a 19-year-old Texas A&M sophomore from Argyle, Texas, died June 18, 2011, after attending Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival at Dallas’ Fair Park. The student told friends he was not feeling well. He had seizure activity and was in cardiac arrest by the time paramedics arrived, the medical examiner’s report said. It said that Graf “died as the result of toxic effects of amphetamine” and that Ecstasy was used at the rave.
Kyle Haigis, 22, of Sherman, Texas, died June 19, 2011, after leaving the Electric Daisy Carnival in Dallas. The former Arkansas Tech University student was in a friend’s car when he started acting irrationally, according to police. Haigis jumped out of the car and was struck by a semi, said John Cherry, police chief of Howe, Texas. A toxicology report showed that Haigis had “Foxy,” an illegal hallucinogen used at raves, in his system. A friend said Haigis took the drug at the rave, Cherry said.
Gregory Fitcher, 32, of Hope, Ark., died April 29, 2012, after attending Insomniac’s Nocturnal Wonderland rave in Milam County, Texas. According to the Milam County sheriff’s office, Fitcher had a seizure in a parking area at the rave and stopped breathing. The coroner’s report said Fitcher died of mixed drug toxicity. It identified several drugs in his system that have effects similar to those of Ecstasy.
Emily McCaughan, 22, of Scottsdale, Ariz., died June 11, 2012, after attending the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. According to news reports quoting a family friend, the University of Arizona student suffered paranoid delusions at the concert. Believing someone was after her, the reports said, she returned alone to her Circus Circus hotel room, sent panicked Facebook messages and apparently squeezed through the window, falling more than 20 stories to her death. A coroner’s official told The Times that McCaughan had Ecstasy, methamphetamine and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid in her system.
Olivier Hennessy, a 31-year-old resident of Ponce Inlet, Fla., died June 16, 2012, after leaving the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The UC Irvine graduate and tech entrepreneur was hit by a pickup truck after staggering into traffic outside the speedway, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19% and marijuana and hydrocodone in his system.
Michael Benway Jr.
Michael Benway Jr., 37, of East Haven, Conn., died June 29, 2012, while attending Electric Forest, a four-day festival near Rothbury, Mich. The event is a joint presentation of Insomniac and Madison House, a Colorado booking firm. Michigan State Police Lt. Kevin Leavitt said Benway was found dead at his concert campsite. A coroner’s report said Benway died of heart inflammation and oxycodone and amphetamine toxicity.
Joseph Bud Norris
Joseph Bud Norris, 21, died from an acute heroin toxicity while working at the Electric Forest festival in Michigan in June 2013. The festival was cosponsored by Insominiac.
Arrel Christopher Cochon
Arrel Christopher Cochon, 22, died of an Ectasy and methamphetamine overdose in September 2013 after collapsing and suffering a seizure at Insomniac Inc.'s Nocturnal Wonderland concert in Devore. Cochon, who worked at Whole Foods in the Fairfax district and dreamed of becoming an aeronautics engineer, had broad musical tastes — including Bob Marley and Michael Buble. It was no surprise that he wanted to check out the all-day Nocturnal Wonderland, his mother said.
Montgomery Tsang, 24, of San Leandro collapsed and died outside the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on June 21, 2014. Investigators determined he died of "acute MDMA toxicity" and also suffered from "cardiac enlargement," officials said.
Anthony Anaya, 25, of Everett, Wash., who went to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas in June 2014, was found unconscious in his hotel room and died at Spring Valley Hospital of alcohol, Ecstasy and cocaine toxicity, according to the coroner.
Brian Alan Brockette
Brian Alan Brockette, 20, a volunteer at the Electric Forest festival in Michigan, cosponsored by Los Angeles-based Insominac, died on June 29, 2014, of acute toxicity from the drug Ecstasy, officials said.
Emily Tran, 19, died Aug. 4, 2014, after attending the Hard Summer music festival at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. Coroner’s officials determined her cause of death to be acute Ecstasy toxicity. Tran was taken to the hospital after she went to the health tent at the festival.
John Hoang Dinh Vo
John Hoang Dinh Vo, 22, of San Diego died of an Ectasy overdose on March 20, 2015. Vo went into cardiac arrest after suffering a possible seizure at Insomniac’s Beyond Wonderland rave in San Bernardino County. The official cause of death was acute toxicity from MDMA, the chemical name of Ecstasy. Vo was in his senior year at UC Irvine and studying biology.
Nicholas Austin Tom
Nicholas Austin Tom, 24, of San Francisco died while attending the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas on June 21, 2015. A coroner determined the cause of his death to be Ecstasy toxicity. Tom graduated from UC Irvine in 2013 with a degree in biological sciences and worked as a medical assistant at UC San Francisco Medical Center.
Katie Dix, 19, of Camarillo died Aug. 1, 2015, of multiple drug intoxication after being found unresponsive and rushed to a hospital while attending the Hard Summer music festival at the Los Angeles County fairgrounds in Pomona. Dix graduated from Coronado High School in San Diego County in 2014.
Tracy Nguyen, 18, of West Covina died from an Ecstasy overdose on Aug. 1, 2015, after attending the Hard Summer music festival at the Los Angeles County fairgrounds in Pomona. Nguyen suffered a seizure and became pulseless as she was rushed to San Dimas Community Hospital, the coroner said. She was about to enter her second year at UCLA, where she studied pre-business economics.
Kenani Kaimuloa, 20, a native of Oceanside, Calif., died from the combined effects of Ecstasy and cocaine intoxication, with heat stress a contributing factor, according to the Clark County coroner. Kaimuloa, who attended the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, was waiting for a shuttle bus on June 20, 2016, when she collapsed and went into convulsions. Her heart later stopped, and she was pronounced dead two days later. Temperatures in the hours before she collapsed had climbed to 109 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Michael John Stephenson, 22, of Lansing, Mich., died of acute cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine toxicity after attending the five-day Electric Forest Festival in Michigan. According to Michigan State Police, Stephenson was found in his tent by his travelmates on the morning of June 27, 2016, as festival attendees packed up to leave the site. Medical personnel and police were summoned, but resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.
Alyssa Dominguez, 21, a San Diego State student, died from acute Ecstasy toxicity, according to the San Bernardino County coroner. Dominguez, who attended the Hard Summer music festival at the Auto Club Speedway in an unincorporated area of San Bernardino County near Fontana, was said to have taken an Ecstasy pill twice on the rave’s first night. She appeared fine until about 1:30 a.m. on July 31, when she and her friends were in a car leaving the venue’s parking lot. She began to ramble incoherently in the back seat, and, about half an hour later, she became unresponsive. When her friends checked on her, she had no pulse.
Derek Lee, 22, of San Francisco, died from acute Ecstasy toxicity, according to the San Bernardino County coroner. Lee attended the Hard Summer music festival at the Auto Club Speedway near Fontana, and was declared dead on July 31, 2016. According to the coroner’s report, Lee took half of a pink pill — apparently Ecstasy — at about 9 p.m. that night and half an hour later, took the other half. He soon began to suffer a seizure and became unresponsive, and was flown to a hospital and arrived at 11:02 p.m.; he was pronounced dead about an hour later. His body temperature in the emergency room was 104.8 degrees. Lee was a recent graduate of UC Irvine.
Roxanne Ngo, 22, of Chino Hills, who was working on a degree in public policy at UC Riverside and was an intern for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, died from acute Ecstasy toxicity, according to the San Bernardino County coroner. Ngo, who attended Hard Summer near Fontana, suffered a seizure and became unresponsive at the venue, and was found by paramedics in cardiac arrest. Despite efforts at the hospital to try to cool down her body from a temperature of 104 degrees, she went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead shortly after 3 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2016.
July 5, 2017: This article was updated with biographical details of Derek Lee.
Dec. 1, 2016: This article has been updated with the death of Michael John Stephenson.
Nov. 30, 2016: This article has been updated with the deaths of Alyssa Dominguez, Derek Lee and Roxanne Ngo.
This article was originally published on Aug. 1, 2016.
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