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Sorrow after second NH drug-related concert death, but some upset at festival's cancellation

By Bill Smith
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 01. 2013 7:57PM

As the University of New Hampshire community mourned the death of a student who died after apparently ingesting a form of the street drug ecstasy at a music festival in New York, others have expressed outrage at the decision to cancel the festival's final performances Sunday.

UNH junior Olivia Rotondo, of Providence, R.I., was among the two people who died after being stricken at the Electronic Zoo music festival, which featured electronic dance music. Four others were hospitalized in critical condition.

UNH officials issued a statement Sunday on the death of Rotondo, 20, a communications major.

"University of New Hampshire officials were greatly saddened to learn of the recent death of Olivia Rotondo, a junior from Rhode Island," said the statement issued by spokeswoman Erika Mantz. "We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time, and are focused on providing support and resources to our campus community."

Mantz said the UNH Counseling Center is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. A school hotline for students who need help in coping with the death is available 24-hours per day at 603-862-2090.

A statement released by the office of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the deaths "appear to have involved the drug MDMA (ecstasy, or molly)."

A Rochester, N.Y. man was also fatally stricken at the event. Four unidentified concert patrons taken to New York hospitals were reported in critical condition on Sunday.

The deaths prompted city officials and the event's promoter to cancel the final day of the weekend-long festival at Randall's Island in New York.

The promoter, Made Event LLC of Long Island City, N.Y. released a statement expressing "deepest condolences to the families of the two people who passed away."

The statement said the performances scheduled for Sunday were cancelled because "there is nothing more important to us than our patrons."

Refunds are being issued for the cancelled performance. A single-day ticket to the event was priced at $140.

Made Event touted the festival as "New York City's biggest electronic-dance-music festival."

Some fans who said they held tickets for the Sunday performance expressed outrage at the cancellation in postings on the event's Facebook page.

"You really can't expect thousands of people to pay for a few irresponsible ones," said one poster claiming to hold tickets for the event. "So many people look forward to this for months and its a life changing experience that you cannot take away like that."

Said another: "We don't want refunds we want to go to the festival today."

That comment received nearly 400 Facebook "likes" in a 12 hour period, but was harshly criticized by others who supported the decision to cancel the festival's final day.

Performers scheduled for the Sunday show in New York included German DJ Zedd.

The Russian-born Zedd was a featured performer at Boston's House of Blues last week when Brittany Flannigan, 19, of Derry died after taking what police said was likely the ecstasy derivative molly.

According to filings in June with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a firm headed by music and broadcasting entrepreneur Robert F. X. Silverman planned to acquire 70 percent of Made Event and a sister company with anticipated proceeds of an initial public stock offering.

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