Victim of fatal Merriweather overdose drank tainted water, parents say

August 4

Family members of one of the two concertgoers who died after attending Friday’s electric dance festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion said they believe he had a toxic reaction to a drink handed to him by another concertgoer.

Tyler Fox Viscardi, 20, of Raleigh, N.C., and a 17-year-old boy from Woodbridge, Va., died after suspected drug overdoses at the all-day Mad Decent Block Party concert in Columbia, Md. Howard County police continue to investigate what drugs might be connected to the deaths of the two concertgoers, who didn’t appear to know each other.

Nineteen others who attended the festival and were hospitalized for apparent drug overdoses have all been treated and released, police said Monday.

Viscardi’s relatives said that they do not know exactly what caused Viscardi to suffer a medical emergency but that he was attending the festival with friends.

“We are devastated by the sudden loss of our beloved Tyler,” Viscardi’s family said in a statement to WJZ-TV. “He was the victim of a terrible mishap. . . . According to his close college friend who was with him, the afternoon was hot and he drank water that was given to him by others who were in the area. We believe that this contained a substance, unbeknownst to him, to which he had a toxic reaction.”

Howard County police cited 50 people for underage drinking at the concert. One concertgoer was arrested for assaulting an officer, another for a domestic assault and a third for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, police said.

Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said the loss of two lives after a concert is “not something we typically see in Howard County,” and police plan to discuss enforcement tactics with concert officials.

“We will be talking with [Merriweather Post Pavilion] and others about preventing this type of situation in the future,” she said.

Merriweather officials believe they took proper security precautions, but “it is unfortunately difficult to protect fans from their own actions, particularly if committed before they enter the venue,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, spokeswoman for IMP, the operator of Merriweather Post Pavilion.

“Measures at the event included searching each patron prior to entering the venue and denying access to anyone demonstrating objective signs they were under the influence,” Fix Schaefer said in a statement. “Backpacks were not permitted, purses and string bags were searched and each patron received a pat-down search by security. When illegal substances were found, the patron and the substance were turned over to police. Patrons were permitted to bring in an empty water bottle so they could refill it free of charge. No other beverages or food were permitted to be brought in, including candy, gum and breath strips.”

Seth Hurwitz, chairman of IMP, said he was saddened by the deaths, especially as a parent himself. Investigators said MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or Molly, which has been linked to deaths at other dance music festivals this year, was the most commonly used drug at the concert.

— Baltimore Sun

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