The San Bernardino County coroner confirmed that the deaths ofthree people at this year's HARD Summer festival were MDMA-related. According to areport from coroner's office released yesterday, the festivalgoers died of acute MDMA toxicity. The local Sheriff's department previously identified the deceased as Derek Lee, 22, of San Francisco; Alyssa Dominguez, 21, of San Diego; and Roxanne Ngo, 22, of Chino Hills.
This year's festival took place at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California from July 30-31. The deaths sparked fresh calls from local lawmakers to ban EDM raves. The deaths led San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford to re-express her interest in a ban on all "rave-style" events at the county-owned San Manuel Amphitheater, a motion she had previously tried and failed to pass. In September, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors said it would consider forming an Electronic Dance Music Task Force to deal with problems related to raves.
LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis had separately called for a temporary ban on raves on county property after the two deaths at HARD Summer's 2015 edition, which took place at the county's Pomona Fairplex. This led to the city's Board of Supervisors forming a regulatory committee called the Electronic Music Task Force, which has no relation to San Bernardino's.
At the time of the initial reports of the deaths, THUMP spoke to criminal defense attorney Cameron Bowman, who specializes in festivals, about the potential merits and plausibility of a rave ban. "Banning raves is not a solution, but is a very politically convenient or popular approach," he said. "It's easy to say, 'Well, we'll just ban it.' I think it takes a little more courage, and I think you've gotta put yourself out there a little bit more as a politician to say, 'Okay, let's just make sure people are being safe there.' That's a riskier position for politicians to take."
In July, the parents of two women who died at HARD Summer in 2014 and 2015 filed a lawsuit against the festival's owner, Live Nation, citing negligence and wrongful death. Meanwhile, HARD Events announced in September that its Halloween-themed Day of the Dead festival would not return this year for "production reasons."
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