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30 sent to hospitals from Halloween raves in Pomona, San Bernardino

Music fans attend the HARD Day of the Dead Halloween-themed rave at the Pomona Fairplex on Saturday.

Music fans attend the HARD Day of the Dead Halloween-themed rave at the Pomona Fairplex on Saturday.

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

At least 30 people were rushed to hospitals from raves held at fairgrounds in Pomona and San Bernardino during the Halloween weekend, authorities said this week.

Ambulances took 26 people to hospitals from the Escape: Psycho Circus rave at the National Orange Show Events Center fairgrounds in San Bernardino on Friday and Saturday; and four more were taken from the Hard Day of the Dead at the Los Angeles County fairgrounds in Pomona, authorities said.

“Most were combative,” said Tom Lynch, the EMS administrator for the Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency, of the 26 patients taken to hospitals from the citrus fairgrounds in San Bernardino. Many were brought in because of drug overdoses or alcohol intoxication, Lynch said.

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Of the four people taken by ambulance to hospitals from the Hard festival, two are suspected to be drug-related, said Cathy Chidester of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency.

A 23-year-old man suffered a possibly drug-related seizure Saturday and was admitted to intensive care at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, while a second man, 26, suffered chest pains Sunday because of drug ingestion and was admitted to the same hospital. Both were expected to recover and be discharged this week.

A 24-year-old man was treated at the Pomona hospital Sunday for a sprained ankle, and a 24-year-old woman was seen at San Dimas Community Hospital after suffering a face injury during an argument.

There were fewer patients transported from the Pomona fairgrounds to hospitals compared to a two-day rave held in August, when 49 people were transported to hospitals, including two young women who died after arriving at the emergency room.

Chidester said the drop in serious injuries at the event was probably a result of fewer attendees, an increase in the minimum age for entry from 18 to 21 and heightened security.

Neighbors of the Halloween-themed music festival said the Pomona event snarled traffic and generated too much noise.

“Who wants to live near this?” said Judith St. John, 68, who has lived near the Pomona fairgrounds for 15 years. “Bringing people with drugs into our community: it’s illegal and immoral.”

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The Pomona rave was held by Live Nation, and the San Bernardino event was organized by Insomniac, a Live Nation subsidiary.

Raves have been under renewed scrutiny since the two young women who attended, one aged 18 and the other 19, died of apparent drug overdoses after attending the Hard Day of the Dead rave at the Los Angeles County fairgrounds, also known as the Fairplex, which sits on county-owned land.

Several emergency room physicians have said that raves threaten public health, and overwhelm hospitals with concertgoers suffering from seizures, comas or other problems, some fatal, because of illicit drugs.

Raves were once more commonly held closer to downtown Los Angeles, such as at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena. But those events stopped being held at the Coliseum in 2011 following the drug-overdose death of a 15-year-old girl who attended the Electric Daisy Carnival rave in 2010.

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There have been at least 20 drug-related deaths among people who went to raves nationwide run by Los Angeles-area companies since 2006, according to a Los Angeles Times review of coroner records and interviews. Nine were in Southern California and five in the Las Vegas area.

Nearly 500 people were arrested at the two electronic music festivals in Pomona and San Bernardino.

The Pomona Police Department said 310 people were arrested during the Hard Day of the Dead festival. Authorities in San Bernardino arrested about 180 people at Escape: Psycho Circus.

At the Pomona rave — which featured headliners such as Skrillex, Deadmau5 and Hot Chip — most were arrested on suspicion of public intoxication, possession of illegal drugs or being under the influence of a controlled substance, police said in a statement. About 100 people were arrested on suspicion of carrying fake identification, authorities said.

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After this summer’s deaths, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously convened a task force to examine rave safety. The Los Angeles County fairgrounds sits on land mostly owned by the county and is managed by a nonprofit association.

Live Nation, the Beverly Hills company that puts on the Hard event series, agreed to cancel a Sept. 10 electronic music program and added new measures for the Halloween weekend’s festival, including capping attendance at 40,000 a day, instead of 65,000, and raising the minimum age for entry to 21.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who advocated for tighter festival rules, said the weekend event was a “great improvement.”

“Even though you had the arrests, you didn’t find people losing their lives,” Solis said. “We had a reduction in people going to emergency medical services.”

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The Hard festival drew 20,000 attendees Saturday. Sunday’s figures were not available, according to a spokeswoman, who said Live Nation did not expect the crowd to exceed 20,000.

Other safety and security precautions for the event included dozens of medical staff at two designated areas, three on-site emergency room physicians, 184 police officers and 24 free water-distribution points. The music festival paid for all the costs for police, fire and medical personnel.

The Escape: Psycho Circus rave in San Bernardino drew about 42,000 attendees Friday and 46,000 Saturday, San Bernardino police Lt. Richard Lawhead said. There was a lower age limit at that event, allowing adults 18 and over.

More than 100 San Bernardino police officers and county sheriff’s deputies worked that event, along with 500 private security guards hired by Insomniac.

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Most of the arrests were for illegal drug possession, trespassing or public intoxication, Lawhead said.

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