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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Death at Paradiso due to dehydration, heat and meth, not molly

Lauren Sigfusson Murrow News Service
The death of 21-year-old man at the Gorge Amphitheatre in June was not due to the drug “molly,” said Wayne Harris, Chelan County coroner. Patrick D. Witkowski died of organ failure due to dehydration caused by the heat and methamphetamine intoxication, according to an autopsy report. In July, 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 over 25,000 attendees. 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. He said dehydration, intense heat and methamphetamine ultimately lead to Witkowski’s death. Emergency room doctors at Quincy Valley Medical Center treated 72 patients who had been attending the weekend music festival. At least 40 to 50 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 WSU, 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.”