Teenage girl dies at Australia's Big Day Out

Drug overdose suspected in incident at music festival

BRISBANE, Australia -- A teenage girl has died from a suspected drug overdose after being rushed to hospital from the Perth leg of Australia's Big Day Out festival.

The unidentified 17-year-old died overnight after apparently swallowing three ecstasy tablets outside the sold-out event, held Sunday at the Claremont Showground. She is understood to have consumed the drugs in an effort to avoid detection by police sniffer dogs, which were checking patrons entering the grounds.

"Big Day Out does not condone the use of drugs at the event," read a statement on the BDO Web site. "The same laws of the outside world apply inside the event. Over 3 million people have attended the Big Day Out in its 17-year history, and this is the first time an incident of this nature has occurred."

When approached by Billboard.biz, BDO organizers Creative Entertainment would not comment further on the incident.

Western Australian premier Colin Barnett extended his sympathies to the girl's family and friends. "(It's) a tragedy, sadly another drug tragedy, and the issue is the use of drugs," he said. "This government will be bringing in legislation relating to drugs and we will take a tough line on drugs for the simple reason to try and stop tragedies like that happening."

Police are now investigating who supplied the drugs. More than 70 BDO festivalgoers were charged with drug-related offenses on a scorching summer's day that saw the mercury top 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Perth event was the sixth and final city on the Big Day Out Australasian tour, which was headlined by Neil Young, the Prodigy and Arctic Monkeys.

While the incident is the first drug-related fatality at a Big Day Out, it's not the first time Australia's best-know festival event has been overshadowed by a tragedy. Sydney teenager Jessica Michalik died after being crushed in a mosh pit at the 2001 BDO during a Limp Bizkit set. Michalik's death led to a lengthy inquest, and the introduction of a range of security measures for subsequent fests.
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