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Two party-goers die at Galilee rave; police open investigation

Hospital suspects drug overdose to blame for at least one of the fatalities at the Neverland Music Festival

Police at the Neverland Music Festival near Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in northern Israel on October 1, 2018. (screen capture: Hadashot news)
Police at the Neverland Music Festival near Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in northern Israel on October 1, 2018. (screen capture: Hadashot news)

Police have opened an investigation after two party-goers died on Monday during the Neverland Music Festival in northern Israel.

Early Monday morning, a 55-year-old man from Ashkelon collapsed on the dance floor during the weekend EDM rave being held outside Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in Upper Galilee. He was rushed to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, but was pronounced dead shortly after. An autopsy was ordered to determine the cause of death, though reports said hospital staff suspected he died of a drug overdose.

Hours later, a 27-year-old man from Kiryat Shmona also collapsed at the same rave, and he was also rushed to the Safed hospital with serious, unspecified injuries. He died several hours later from organ failure.

Two other party-goers were hospitalized at Ziv for injuries sustained during the rave. One 20-year-old man was treated for a punctured lung, and a woman was being treated at Ziv for moderate head injuries sustained in a fall.

Police said the Neverland Festival obtained the necessary permits for the rave, and that security guards were monitoring the event, not police officers. But in a statement, police said that “in light of the incidents, an investigation will be opened to determine the cause of their deaths.”

Illustrative: An outdoor rave near Nahal Habsor in southern Israel on September 19, 2012. (Oren Nahshon / FLASH90)

The local government authority also responded to Monday’s deaths saying it hesitated to approve the request for the Neverland Festival, but ultimately conceded after the rave organizers met all of the legal requirements.

“This kind of tragedy is the reason we decided last month not to approve requests for mass parties in our region,” the Upper Galilee Regional Council said in a statement.

Last year, police arrested three rave organizers after an IDF soldier died during an unlicensed party in southern Israel. Police said 20-year-old Tohar David collapsed after taking LSD, but organizers waited several hours before calling an ambulance for David, who was convulsing and foaming at the mouth, because they feared the unlicensed event would be shut down by police.

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