Des Moines man dies of party drug overdose at music festival

by: David Ham Updated:

QUINCY, Wash. —

Patrick Witkowski, 21, of Des Moines is believed to have died after overdosing on a party drug called Molly. Dozens of other people who also attended the Paradiso Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy over the weekend were hospitalized for overdoses. "Preliminary numbers reflect between 40 and 50 patients were seen for issues related to drugs and alcohol. Seven patients were transferred to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, Wash., for further care," said Michele Wurl of Quincy Valley Medical Center.

 A spokesperson for Central Washington Hospital said seven of the more serious overdose cases were transferred to Central Washington Hospital. Three people are still being treated and are in serious but stable condition. "I saw people in the medical tent lying down on tables having medical people looking into their eyes checking their pupils," said Aaron Silverstein, who attended the event. He and other witnesses we spoke to believe many people were selling fake Molly. "Some of the people most likely got sold some counterfeit drugs," said Silverstein.

 Molly is a party drug that has the same stimulant found in Ecstasy. State toxicologists also say they have seen the surfacing of a synthetic version of Molly, but don't think the problem is an epidemic.

 The promoters of the Paradiso Festival released this statement on the overdoses:

 "Live Nation and USC Events were co-producers of the Paradiso Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre on June 28th-29th and are committed to bringing people together to experience music in a safe environment. For this event, we worked with the local Sheriff's Department to have a sub-station located at the onsite campgrounds and other first responders to help ensure the venue had appropriate security. During the festival, we entertained more than 25,000 fans over two days. In those two days, about 50 total fans were transported via ambulance to area hospitals for a variety of medical issues ranging from heat exhaustion to unfortunately what appears to be drug overdoses. We wish to express our deep concern about reports regarding a 21-year-old man who died at Central Washington Hospital over the weekend. We extend our sympathy to his family. Because this is an active investigation, we must defer questions to the Grant County Sheriff's Department."

Patrick Witkowski's parents, Paul and Tracy Witkowski, released this statement:

"At 6' 7" Patrick was a gentle giant.  He was a giving sole with a large heart.  Patrick's passions included family and friends, being a WSU Pike (Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity) and basketball.
 
"Patrick graduated from WSU in May and began his professional career last week.

"Thank you for respecting our privacy."
 

The Grant County Sheriff's Department made 23 arrests for people selling and having drugs at the Gorge. Detectives are still investigating who sold the Molly that made people sick.