Up to 50 concertgoers overdose at Gorge; Des Moines man dies

QUINCY, Wash. -- Nearly 50 people overdosed on drugs and alcohol at the Paradiso Music Festival at The Gorge Amphitheater last weekend. One man died.

Another man disappeared, although he was later found wandering the Columbia River shoreline nearly 8 miles away.

Twenty-year-old Andreano Farinas from Seattle spent Sunday night under a rock shelf before he was found Monday. He told police he’d never taken the powerful drug Molly until this weekend.

Molly, the powder or crystal form of MDMA, the chemical used in Ecstasy, has been a popular drug at music festivals this year, CNN reports.

Molly, short for molecule, is considered to be pure MDMA, unlike Ecstasy, which generally is laced with other ingredients, such as caffeine or methamphetamine.

“They are killing their brain cells,” Michele Wurl of the nearby Quincy Valley Medical Center said Monday. “Studies have shown that these drugs have permanent damage and, even if they are hydrated and leave our facility, they do damage the synapses in the brain and they do have long-term consequences.”

Business was booming at the local hospital as one after another concertgoer stumbled in after partying too hard.

"Between 40 and 50 (people) were treated for drug and alcohol abuse,” said Wurl.

Nearly 25,000 people attended the music festival at The Gorge.

That’s where police say they ran afoul of the drug Molly that ruined the party.

“It’s an intense form of Ecstasy used in that type of form; it usually comes in a clear capsule, it’s a powdery white substance that, when consumed, can create hallucinations in people,” said Undersheriff Dave Ponozzo.

Farinas took at least two of those pills and left the area completely. Fortunately, cops found him before the extreme heat and disorientation did any more damage.

“According to him, he doesn’t know how he got there other than the last few hours until he found civilization,” said Ponozzo. “He apparently climbed up under a rock shelf until it got daylight and then he walked until he found people, but he appears to be in good health.”

Seven people were rushed to a Chelan County hospital with more severe overdose symptoms – and unfortunately, one man lost his life.

The victim was identified by the Chelan County Coroner's Office as 21-year-old Patrick Witkowski, of Des Moines, Wash.

Preliminary reports indicate Witkowski died when he apparently overdosed on a cocktail of drugs at the festival, said Coroner Wayne Harris. Harris said medical examiners have not completed the autopsy and don’t know what drugs were in his system.

Local hospitals here say they are seeing more serious cases of drug abuse than ever.

Many people say the whole point of some of these music festivals is to come out and get high on whatever is being passed around.

That didn’t work out so well for dozens of people at the Gorge this weekend.