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Gorge concert death linked to meth, not ‘molly’

The death of a 21-year-old Gorge concertgoer originally blamed on the club drug “molly” has been linked instead to meth.

Patrick D. Witkowski died in June of organ failure due to dehydration caused by the heat and methamphetamine intoxication, according to an autopsy ordered by Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris.

Initially, hospital and police sources had attributed Witkowski’s death to the drug molly, which is considered to be a form of Ecstasy but can include a mixture of different drugs, according to law enforcement experts.

Witkowski had been attending Paradiso, a two-day electronic dance music festival with more than 25,000 attendees at the Gorge Amphitheatre. Officials suspected Witkowski had taken MDMA, or molly, but Harris’ reports tested negative.

“It was a tough one,” Harris said. Because he believed Witkowski’s death was due to an overdose of molly, he ordered tests to determine whether that was the case and the autopsy took twice as long as initially expected.

Emergency room doctors at Quincy Valley Medical Center treated 72 patients who had been attending the weekend music festival in late June. At least 40 people had medical problems related to drugs and alcohol, a hospital spokeswoman said at the time.

Dr. Cassandra Nichols, director of Counseling and Testing Services at Washington State University, said MDMA is a particularly concerning substance because people think they’re getting a purified form of Ecstasy.

“You don’t know what you’re getting,” she said. “You’re getting a whole wide variety of stuff mixed in there, including meth.”

She said university counselors are aware of the drug and the increased use of it. They’re also aware of myths regarding MDMA.

“(People think) that somehow because it’s in pill form and it looks like a prescription pill that it’s something that’s regulated, which it’s not,” she said. “Or that somehow it being a more pure form of Ecstasy means something; it doesn’t.”

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