A North Carolina man died and more than 20 others were hospitalized after apparent drug overdoses Friday at a concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Howard County police said. One teen was in critical condition.
Police said Tyler Fox Viscardi, 20, of Raleigh, N.C., was rushed from the all-day Mad Decent Block Party concert to Howard County General Hospital around 9 p.m. and was pronounced dead shortly after. Police said his death appeared to result from a drug overdose, but officials have not determined what drugs he took.
A 17-year-old boy was also taken to a hospital after apparently overdosing at the concert and was listed in critical condition. Police said the teen and Viscardi didn't appear to know each other.
Police said more than 20 people were taken to hospitals from the concert in total and that many of them appeared to be suffering from drug overdoses, though the drugs they were using have not been identified.
The Mad Decent Block Party music festival travels across the country, and the concert at Merriweather featured prominent artists like Diplo and Sleigh Bells. The performers are mostly electronic dance music acts. Police said similar problems with drug overdoses have been seen at other such festivals in the U.S.
Diplo, a DJ who helped found Mad Decent Block Party, wrote on his Twitter account Saturday: "our hearts go out to everyone impacted by yesterday's event. we are truly devastated."
Police also issued 50 citations for underage drinking, and arrested three people: one for an assault on an officer, one for domestic assault, and one for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
In a statement, Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. and operator of Merriweather Post Pavilion, said the incident spoke to the pervasive drug culture of teens and young adults.
"Our hearts go out to the family as they face the unimaginable," the statement said. "As a parent, it makes me horribly sad beyond words to think of a tragedy like this. We can spend every minute of the day making perfect sense to our children regarding the obvious perils of drugs, but sometimes it is impossible to convince them that this is relevant to their world."
"This particular type of incident is not the problem of those who should have known better...it's the problem of those too young to believe it could happen to them," he said. "Sadly we find ourselves in the classic position of trying to tell kids not to do something they think is fun."
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