Electric Zoo Dance Festival Shuttered After Drug-Related Deaths, Cops Say

By Jess Wisloski and Iris Mansour  on September 1, 2013 9:35am  | Updated on September 1, 2013 7:17pm

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 The tents and stages at Randall's Island were being torn down early Sunday, after the city and promoters canceled the dance festival.
Electric Zoo Canceled on Final Day
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RANDALL'S ISLAND — Two days into a high-profile annual dance party on Randall's Island where two participants died and four others fell critically ill, city officials and promoters announced the remainder of the event was canceled.

The final day of the Electric Zoo, a three-day music binge that began Friday and featured international electronic dance artists, posed "serious health risks" to concert-goers, the NYPD and mayor's office said in a statement.

The decision came after a 23-year-old man died Saturday about 3:26 p.m., and a woman, 21, died about 9:36 p.m. — both from drug overdoses, according to police.

The prevalence of MDMA consumption, also known as Molly or Ecstasy, appeared to be linked to the two deaths, the statement said. A medical examiner's report on the exact cause of death was inconclusive, pending further toxicology reports and tissue studies, a spokeswoman said Sunday.

It was unclear what caused at least four other revelers to be admitted to the ICU at Metropolitan Hospital, but officials determined "the safest course is to cancel the remaining day of the event," according to the statement, which was issued Sunday morning.

The city's statement said the event's organizers had worked to reduce the health risks this year, but that closure was the only option after the deaths.

Made Events, which organizes the event, offered condolences to the families of the deceased, publicized by Twitter on Sunday. 

"The founders of Electric Zoo send our deepest condolences to the families of the two people who passed away this weekend," the website message read, which was tweeted just after 10:30 a.m.

"Because there is nothing more important to us than our patrons, we have decided in consultation with the New York City Parks Department that there will be no show today."

Electric Zoo has been running for five years, and this year it featured shows on five  stages on the island. Sunday's lineup included Dutch trance artist Armin Van Buuren and American house DJ Steve Aoki.

Following the announcement, concert-goers converged outside the 125th Street 6 train in Harlem, where a man on a megaphone was informing straphangers that the event was closed.

Trixy Struck, 21, who had a three-day pass, said she'd bought a ticket for her sister as a graduation gift, and that her sister cried when she found out it was canceled.

"There are drugs everywhere at these concerts," she said, adding that she was angry at the organizers' message, that the show was closed in consideration of patrons. "If they cared about the concert-goers, they wouldn't have canceled," she said, adding that the festival was "just trying to look good for the mayor."

A woman who drove several hours for the festival's last day said she was also let down. "I was really bummed, I came from Boston," said Jennifer Geiger, 22. She was supposed to meet friends there, but said she got the message from her pals after she arrived.

Twitter users were also fuming and mourning the festival's closure, and a few mentioned condolences for the two lives lost. Recurring themes were predominantly dismay over what some called a lack of security and queries about refunds for ticketholders.

"They could have at least attempted to tighten up security instead of CANCELING the whole damn day. " wrote Lalu.

And LyleS demanded, "AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON REFUNDS DUE TO MADE EVENTS NON-EXISTENT SECURITY NOW!!! You cancel and keep our money? "

The concerts were set to host an estimated 80,000 ticketed concert-goers, according to organizers' projections.

The Electric Zoo tweeted at 11:40 a.m. that refund information would be posted soon, but no updates had followed by the late afternoon. The company did not respond to an inquiry by Twitter.

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