20-Year-Old Woman Dies After Medical Emergency at Lightning in a Bottle

A scene from Lightning in a Bottle, an annual camping festival in BradleyEXPAND
A scene from Lightning in a Bottle, an annual camping festival in Bradley
Shane Lopes

A Lightning in a Bottle attendee died early Sunday morning, according to multiple news reports. Baylee Gatlin, a 20-year-old woman from Ventura, was pronounced dead at Twin Cities Hospital in Templeton, about 35 miles from the festival's location on Lake San Antonio in Bradley. She was evacuated from the festival after suffering an unspecified medical emergency. The cause of her death is not yet known.

Family members speaking to the San Luis Obispo Tribune  said that Gatlin, a visual artist and restaurant worker, had first attended Lightning in a Bottle in 2016 and found it to be a "life-changing experience." But they also criticized the festival for having inadequate on-site medical services. "They could have had sensible people working in what was supposed to be the triage or medical, and apparently they didn’t," Ari DeChellis, Gatlin's aunt, told the Tribune.

Lightning in a Bottle is a five-day camping festival featuring multiple live music and DJ stages, interactive art, classes and workshops. Attendance for this year's event was estimated to be about 25,000, according to the Monterey County Sheriff's Office.

An official map for the festival showed two first aid stations, as well as two "harm reduction" tents offering drug education and assistance to attendees "having a difficult experience, whether drug-related or not," as described on a harm reduction page on the festival's website. It is not yet clear whether illegal drugs played any role in Gatlin's death. Officially, Lightning in a Bottle is a drug-free event.

Festival organizers released a statement to media that read, "Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the woman who passed away at Twin Cities Hospital after attending Lightning in a Bottle this weekend. We ask that the LiB community keep her and her family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."


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