Police on Sunday said an investigation into the death of a woman at an outdoor drug-fueled rave in 2017 had come to an end, with criminal charges set to be lodged against its organizers.
Police suspect that in delaying medical attention for several hours, organizers had caused the death of Tohar David, a 20-year-old Israeli soldier, by heatstroke.
Investigators believe the three suspects in the case did not want to seek aid for David, who was convulsing and foaming at the mouth, because they feared medical staff would report it to police, who would then shut down the unlicensed event, causing them financial loss.
The State Prosecutor’s Office is expected to file indictments against Leon Bagio, 32, Shlomo Pashral, 38, and Omri Hayun, 34. It has not yet been decided if they will be charged with manslaughter or death by negligence.
— ynet עדכוני (@ynetalerts) August 19, 2018
The three suspects were arrested after David’s death and then released on bail. Last week, the prosecution informed them it was rejecting their claims of innocence and they would face charges.
David had attended the so-called nature party in the woods north of Beersheba on August 5, 2017. She collapsed early in the morning and was only taken for medical assistance nearly five hours later. She died four days later in hospital with medical staff assessing that heatstroke caused her death.
An acquaintance of David admitted to police that they both had taken LSD at the party; however, the drug was not believed to have caused her death.
At around 6 a.m. David collapsed on the dance floor and started having spasms as well as frothing at the mouth, eyewitnesses told police. She also suffered a head injury, possible while falling.
At some point after she collapsed, David was given cocaine in the hope that the drug would revive her, eyewitnesses said.
Bagio and Pashral put her on a mattress in the open back of Bagio’s pickup truck where Hayun, at the time a fourth-year medical student, attended to her, but to no avail.
Bagio and Pashral began driving with the apparent intention of seeking professional medical care, but quickly turned back and returned to the party. Police suspect the decision to go back was made because the three suspects were worried they would draw attention to the event, which would then be shut down early, costing them money.
For the next four and half hours, David lay in the back of the pickup truck on what was a particularly hot day. Her condition deteriorated further, with one witness saying organizers declined his offer to take David to the hospital.
Another eyewitness said she saw David suffering seizures and soaking wet in the back of the pickup truck, but when she inquired why an ambulance hadn’t been summoned, she was told not to worry.
Eventually, after 10:30 a.m., David was driven to a main road and an ambulance was called.
Magen David Adom medics said at the time they found her without a pulse but managed to resuscitate her before taking her to the Soroka Medical Center near Beersheba.
The hospital said the woman had suffered irreversible brain damage due to heatstroke.
An autopsy found that the likely cause of her death was either heatstroke or poisoning, although no toxins were found in her body aside from the remains of the cocaine she was given. Medical staff who treated her said that she would likely have survived if given medical treatment in time.
Pashral’s attorney said in a statement, “With all the regret and pain, legally you can’t attribute to the organizers of the party an offense of manslaughter. When young people arrive at a nature party that begins at five in the morning, when they take bad hallucinogens with alcohol, and there is no doubt that the deceased took the drug called acid, then the producers don’t need to be responsible for what happens.”
“If someone deliberately prevented the deceased from receiving treatment or being evacuated, he will receive full justice. Even if that same person who prevented the treatment is a fourth year student for medicine, and even if he really thought that he was helping her,” the statement continued. “The client that I am representing, was an employee at the event. He did not know at all that they prevented the deceased from receiving treatment or being evacuated, if indeed it was prevented, and therefore can’t be held responsible.”
Attorneys for Hayun said in a statement their client “was employed at the event as a ticket clerk.”
“As such, he had no authority or responsibility with regard to the logistic infrastructure in general, and the aspects of medicine and evacuation in particular. Under the circumstances, we find it strange that the prosecution intends to file an indictment against him.”