NYC Dance Music Festival Canceled After 2 Die, 4 Sickened

Officials said the deaths appeared to be linked to drugs

Tuesday, Sep 3, 2013  |  Updated 9:28 AM CDT
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A New York City dance music festival has been canceled after two people died and four others were hospitalized because of apparent drug overdoses during the first days of performances. Brynn Gingras reports.

A New York City dance music festival has been canceled after two people died and four others were hospitalized because of apparent drug overdoses during the first days of performances. Brynn Gingras reports.

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A New York City dance music festival has been canceled after two people died and four others were hospitalized because of apparent drug overdoses during the first days of performances.

The city says it recommended the Electric Zoo festival on Randall's Island not continue Sunday. The last day of the festival was to feature high-profile acts including Avicii, David Guetta and Diplo. 

Police identified the two people who died as 23-year-old Jeffrey Russ from Rochester and 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo from Rhode Island. The city said at least four others were critically ill and were in intensive care.
 
Russ was pronounced dead at a hospital around 3:20 a.m. Saturday, police said. He had been brought to the hospital from the festival.
 
Rotondo was taken to a hospital later Saturday, around 8:45 p.m., and was pronounced dead shortly afterward, police said.
 
The city says the deaths appear to have been linked to drugs, specifically MDMA, or "Molly." A spokeswoman for the city medical examiner said autopsy results were inconclusive and further toxicology and tissue testing is needed.

Rotondo was a student at the University of New Hampshire. In a statement released Sunday school officials said they were "greatly saddened" to learn of her death.

The festival has been held over Labor Day weekend since 2009 and draws sizable crowds to hear artists performing on multiple stages.
 
In a statement posted on the festival's website organizers sent condolences to the families of Russ and Rotondo.

"Because there is nothing more important to us than our patrons, we have decided in consultation with the New York City Parks Department that there will be no show today," the statement read.

Festival attendees said using Molly has become popular in recent years.

"It's a big thing at these festivals just because the way the drug makes you feel, it makes you feel the music more," said Zak Whitcomb, who planning to go to the festival Sunday.

Others said they don't believe the drug is always harmful.

"It's not dangerous if you know what you're doing, if you actually take the right kind not mixed with anything," said Paulina Mielicka.

--Brynn Gingras contributed reporting

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