A Canadian doctor who wants to legalize ecstasy says the drug is safe and that it's only the adulterated version of MDMA you find on the street that can kill you.
But doctors at Los Angeles emergency rooms have told us that pure ecstasy can kill, including causing vital oxygen deprivation to organs. It's a hot topic: Two people who attended Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas earlier this month died after leaving the festival. At least one of them had taken ecstasy.
There have surely been more than 10 raver deaths in the last 5 years, and an EMT who worked raves at the L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena in recent years told us he knew of at least two other deaths that have gone unreported in the media. But here are 10 of the most high-profile losses since 2007, most of which were blamed on ecstasy:
10. Olivier Hennessy, a 31-year-old from Florida, was hit by a truck outside Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas early on June 11. Cops said it was an accident -- that he crossed the road right in front of the vehicle near Gate 6 of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the three-night festival was held. Hennessy died the next Saturday after spending nearly a week in the hospital. Though the exact cause of death remains to be seen, friends said he had been drinking all day before the accident.
9. Emily McCaughan, a 22-year-old student at the University of Arizona, died after she fell from the 27th floor of the Circus Circus hotel after attending Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas on June 11. Her friends had said she was acting paranoid and thought someone was following her at the party, so they sent her back to her hotel. They said she had taken ecstasy and was suffering from delusional thoughts, though that kind of behavior isn't usually associated with MDMA.
8. Matthew Allen, a 19-year-old, died after he attended an electronic dance music night called Club Afterlife in the Dallas area last August. He was pronounced in an Irving hospital. The teen had apparently taken ecstasy. According to our sister publication, the Dallas Observer:
... A friend of his told WFAA that he'd admitted to taking ecstasy pills earlier in the night.
7. Andrew James Graf of Argyle, Texas, died after attending Electric Daisy Carnival in Dallas in 2011. He was taken to Baylor University hospital the night of the party and died at 10:51 p.m., the Dallas Medical Examiner's office told us. His death was reported as an "apparent ecstasy overdose."
6. Kyle Raymond Haigis, a 22-year-old, died after attending Electric Daisy Carnival in Dallas last summer. Authorities said that, after he likely took "drugs," he ran onto an area highway and was fatally struck by a tractor-trailer. His friends told cops he had taken ecstasy and was acting belligerent after they left the party, which had been shut down early by police.
5. Jesse Morales died after he attended Electric Daisy Carnival in Dallas in 2010. However, his family didn't try to tie his death to the rave until the next year, after a teen died after attending the party in 2011. The 22-year-old Morales, a student at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, was found unconscious with a body temperature of 107. Friends said he had gone in search of water. The promoters behind Insomniac said they weren't even informed of his death and believed it to be "unrelated" to EDC Dallas.
4. Sasha Rodriguez, a 15-year-old who sneaked into 2010's Electric Daisy Carnival at the L.A. Coliseum, died a few days after being hospitalized at California Medical Center. The L.A. County coroner's office told the Weekly she succumbed to complications that resulted from ecstasy intoxication. Her demise led to a scandal at the publicly run venue that ultimately shut out raves, which had been held there and at the Coliseum's sister venue, the L.A. Sports Arena, since 1999. EDC moved its big summer massive to Las Vegas starting in 2011, though organizers have not ruled out a return to L.A.
3. Anthony Mata, a 23-year-old Santa Clara resident, died the day after a May 29, 2010, rave in the Bay Area called Pop2010: The Dream. An ecstasy overdose was suspected. The number of overdose patients at Seton Medical Center in Daly City that night prompted hospital officials to activate its disaster plan for the first time since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
2. Trung Nguyen, a 25-year-old from San Jose, died days after the same Cow Palace rave in the Bay Area, after he was taken off life support.
He reportedly fell unconscious after taking MDMA and attending the event, which drew about 16,000 people and saw 68 drug-related arrests.
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1. Michelle Yuenshan Lee, a 20-year-old from Irvine, died of drug intoxication, including the effects of MDMA, days after taking ecstasy and attending Monster Massive at the L.A. Sports Arena in 2007. Party-goer Marcus Gaede and his wife found her on a pathway passed out and summoned help. Gaede told us:
For over 35 minutes we were waiting with a security guard for medical attention. Her mouth was, like, wired shut and she was, like, choking on the water. She was going to drown. ... As the drugs kept taking more effect, she started having seizures.