San Bernardino County officials plan probe of death at rave

San Bernardino County officials said Tuesday they would investigate the Ecstasy-related death of a 22-year-old man who collapsed while attending a government-approved rave concert in September.

A county spokesman said the officials were unaware of the death of Arrel Christopher Cochon until after The Times reported on it late Monday. The Los Angeles City College student was the third person since 2006 to die of a drug overdose after attending a San Bernardino-area rave staged by Insomniac Inc., a Times review of coroner records shows.


"It is horribly tragic to lose a young life, and our hearts go out to this young man's family and loved ones," David Wert, the county spokesman, said in an email. "The county will look into it."

Early this year, the Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to allow raves at the county-owned San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore. Insomniac moved its concerts there from the nearby National Orange Show Events Center after complaints by city officials and police about drug use at the company's previous shows.

After voting in favor of the raves, Supervisor Josie Gonzales told The Times that officials were confident "we can make these events as safe as any other concert we have at the amphitheater."

"If that proves not to be the case for the first concert, I will urge the Board of Supervisors to join me in banning future events like this," Gonzales said.

On Tuesday, Gonzales' chief of staff, Dan Flores, said in an email that the supervisor could not comment on Cochon's death because "she does not have all of the information regarding the circumstances."

"The supervisor will work with the county administrative office and the Sheriff's Department to evaluate concerts and special events to ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to create a safe environment," Flores wrote, adding that Gonzales would consider prohibiting raves if they "do not meet, or exceed, the safety standards set for all other concerts at the amphitheater."

The other supervisors declined to comment or did not respond to interview requests.

Cochon's mother, Isabel, said Tuesday that the county should require concert promoters to post at raves a display of photographs of people who have died of drug overdoses associated with the shows.

"This would give them awareness of what's going on inside," she said. "They can have my son's picture out there."

Arrel Cochon was at least the 16th person nationwide to die of drug-related causes since 2006 after attending raves produced by Insomniac or another promoter, Go Ventures Inc., according to coroner and police records reviewed by The Times. Most of the dead were in their teens or 20s. Many of the concerts were held at government-owned venues.

The Times began examining deaths linked to raves in nine states after the top executives of Insomniac and Go Ventures — Pasquale Rotella and Reza Gerami, respectively — were indicted on bribery and other charges in connection with concerts held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena.

They are accused of making side payments to a Coliseum manager to help their Los Angeles-based firms win government approval of the raves and keep their costs down.

Both promoters have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. The case grew out of Times reports on financial ties between the two men and the Coliseum events manager, Todd DeStefano, who was also indicted and has pleaded not guilty. They came under scrutiny after a 15-year-old who attended a 2010 Insomniac rave at the stadium died of an Ecstasy overdose.

The Coliseum Commission later banned raves at the stadium and Sports Arena.


In an emailed statement last week, Insomniac spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said of Cochon's death: "The Insomniac family is deeply saddened that this happened, where someone made a choice that ended their life too soon. Insomniac takes every reasonable precaution to help keep our fans safe and informed about the dangers of drug use."