This article was reported by Paul Singley and Jaimie Cura and written by Paul Singley.
The events that unfolded at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury over the weekend, which led to four teens being hospitalized after overdosing on a so-called “club drug,” are becoming all too frequent occurrences in both cities and rural settings, according to law enforcement.
“This is a problem across the U.S.,” Acting Middlebury Police Chief Richard Wildman said of rave parties typically organized online, similar to the one held at Quassy Saturday night.
As he reflected on the chaotic scenario that unfolded in this quaint community near the base of the Litchfield Hills, Wildman described the scene as such:
“There’s kids listening to music. You’re fighting your way in and then fighting your way out,” he said, clarifying that he meant there were so many people in close quarters that it was hard to get at those injured.
All told, about 30 state and local police officers from the surrounding area responded to Quassy when seven people overdosed or had negative reactions to the drugs Ketamine and 2C-P — both hallucinogens.
Four of the teens, who are not from the Middlebury or Greater Waterbury area, were transported to Saint Mary’s and Waterbury hospitals. One of the teens, believed to be 17-or-18-years-old, was not breathing and did not have a pulse when he was brought to the hospital.
All the teens have since been treated and released from the hospital, Wildman said Monday.
“Club Drugs” and “Raves”
The FBI has shared information on its website regarding club drugs similar to those believed to have been ingested by teenagers and young people during the rave party.
“‘Raves’ are high-energy, all-night dances that feature heart pounding techno-music and flashing laser lights,” the FBI’s document on Club Drugs states. “Raves are found in most metropolitan areas and, increasingly, in rural areas throughout the country. The parties are held in permanent dance clubs, abandoned warehouses, open fields, or empty buildings.”
On Saturday, a rave was held in the most unlikely of places: Quassy, an iconic family-owned park on 20 acres bordering Lake Quassapaug that features 22 rides and has been in operation since 1908.
The event was organized by “Tight Crew” out of Rhode island, according to Middlebury Police. It appears from Tight Crew’s website that the organizers throw rave parties throughout the east coast.
The FBI warns that raves are frequently advertised as “alcohol free” parties with hired security personnel and are dubbed on Internet sites as “safe” and “drug free.”
“However, they are dangerously overcrowded parties where your child can be exposed to rampant drug use and a high-crime environment,” the FBI states. “Numerous overdoses are documented at these events.”
Raves Hit National Spotlight Following Recent Deaths
A similar unfortunate incident occurred just weeks ago in New York.
On Sept. 3, events scheduled for the final day of a massive three-day party called the “Electric Zoo Music Festival” in New York City were cancelled after two people, ages 23 and 20, died of drug overdoses. They were reported to have taken the club drug MDMA, either in Ecstasy pills or in its “pure” or crystal form, known as “molly.”
“Raves are one of the most popular venues where club drugs are distributed,” the FBI states.
Types of Club Drugs
The following information comes directly from the FBI:
“Club drugs include MDMA (more commonly known as “Ecstasy”), GHB and Rohypnol (also known as the “date rape” drugs), Ketamine, Methamphetamine (also known as “Meth”), and LSD.
“Because some club drugs are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, they can be added without detection to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others in order to commit sexual assaults.
“Rave promoters capitalize on the effects of club drugs. Bottled water and sports drinks are sold at Raves, often at inflated prices, to manage hyperthermia and dehydration. Also found are pacifiers to prevent involuntary teeth clenching, menthol nasal inhalers, surgical masks, chemical lights, and neon glow sticks to increase sensory perception and enhance the Rave experience.”
Middlebury Police will “follow up where [they] can” and see if they can determine where the drugs came from; the teens who were treated will not face charges, Wildman said.
Quassy Amusement Park Responds
Ron Gustafson, public relations director for Quassy Amusement Park, said in a written statement:“Our thoughts and prayers are with those individuals involved in the unfortunate incident. We carefully scrutinized the history of the production firm, and indications were the company had presented numerous similar events without incident. The park is grateful for the Middlebury Police and the emergency responders for the handling of this incident."