The drug MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy or Molly, caused the deaths of three young adults who attended the HARD Summer Music Festival in Fontana in July, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff Coroner’s Division. The deaths were due to “acute MDMA toxicity,” said Mike Sutcliffe, the supervising coroner investigator, on Nov. 28. The festival took place on July 30 and 31 at Auto Club Speedway. The man and two women who died had been transported from the event to different hospitals for medical attention, according to a release by the Coroner’s Division back on Aug. 1.
• Derek Lee, 22, of San Francisco died at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton on July 31 at 12:10 a.m.
• Alyssa Dominguez, 21, of San Diego died at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Fontana on July 31 at 2:10 a.m.
• Roxanne Ngo, 22, of Chino Hills died at Loma Linda University Medical Center on Aug. 1 at 3:04 a.m.
There were a total of nine medical transports at the festival, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The three deaths are believed to be the most ever caused by Ecstasy at one high-profile Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival.
Prior to the event in Fontana, there had been a total of four drug-related deaths at other festivals (also known as “raves”) in San Bernardino County (one each in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2015).
MDMA is a synthetic drug that alters a person’s mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception. The drug is widely believed to be used by a large number of attendees at EDM events, which have become extremely popular in recent years.
HARD Summer was being held in Fontana for the first time this year after previously taking place in Los Angeles County; two deaths were reported at HARD Summer in Pomona in 2015.
The 2016 event, featuring Ice Cube and Major Lazer, attracted 146,000 people, most of whom were under the age of 30. There has been no official confirmation about whether HARD Summer would return to Auto Club Speedway in 2017.
Earlier this year, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors considered a proposal by 2nd District Supervisor Janice Rutherford to ban raves at San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore, a county-operated facility. However, the proposal did not pass. Rutherford said in August that “we know that illegal drug use is rampant at these events and that many young lives have been lost because of drug use at raves.” She added: “We cannot wait for more young lives to be lost before we decide enough is enough.”