Two More Festival Deaths Show Inquest Is Needed 'ASAP': Coroner
The NSW Deputy Coroner says another two suspected drug overdoses in Queensland over the weekend underline the importance of investigating deaths at music festivals.
Magistrate Harriet Grahame made the remarks at a directions hearing in Sydney on Tuesday morning, ahead of an inquest into a series of suspected festival overdoses scheduled to begin in July.
A 22-year-old woman from Nambour and 24-year old man from Maleny were found dead in a tent at the Rabbits Eat Lettuce festival near Warwick on Monday morning.
“The tragic events in Queensland at the weekend just underline how important it is to deal with this,” Grahame said.
“It’s just a really, really tragic public health issue and if there’s anything we can do to find out ways of preventing it, we need to do that as soon as possible.”
Another two deaths from suspected overdoses have now been added to the list of those being examined by the inquest.
Anne Nguyen, 23, died after attending the Dragon Dreaming festival in October 2015, while Nathan Tran, 18, died after falling and hitting his head at the Knockout Circuz festival in December 2017.
The inquest was announced ten days after the death of Central Coast teenager Alex Ross-King, who died in hospital on January 12 after attending the FOMO music festival in Parramatta.
Her family members and friends were among those attending the hearing at Lidcombe on Tuesday.
The two-week hearing in July will also examine the deaths of Josh Tam, 22, who attended the Lost Paradise festival on the Central Coast on December 29; Callum Brosnan, 19, who died after attending the Knockout Games of Destiny festival at Sydney Olympic Park on December 8; and Joseph Pham, 23, and Diana Nguyen, 21, who died at Defqon.1 festival at Penrith on September 15.
Counsel Assisting the Coroner Peggy Dwyer told the court a significant number of experts had indicated they were “willing and enthusiastic” to help the inquest.
“[They include] numerous pharmacologists and toxicologists in addition to researchers who will provide evidence about harm minimisation,” Dwyer said.
The court also heard police were having “real difficultly” contacting the medical crews who were on duty at the Defqon.1 festival where Nguyen and Pham died.
The police officers in charge of investigating several of the deaths have requested two-week extensions to provide their reports to the court.
Grahame granted the extensions, but urged all parties to gather their material as quickly as possible.
A further directions hearing will be held on June 21.