Man dies of suspected overdose at Pitch Music & Arts Festival amid heatwave

main stage photo at Pitch Festival

Aspiring DJ Antony Maugeri, 23, died of a suspected drug overdose shortly after being airlifted to hospital in a critical condition from the Pitch Arts and Music Festival on the weekend.

Another man in his 20s and a man in his 30s were also rushed to hospital in stable conditions from the same event, 9 News Australia reports.

Questions are mounting about why the Victorian music festival, in Mafeking, west of Ararat, was allowed to go ahead in the extreme heat conditions.

The music festival was cancelled in the early hours of Monday morning amid heat and fire danger warnings, with revellers told to leave.

This was the latest coverage from 9 News Australia at the time of writing:

Opposition MP Emma Keely questioned why the event was allowed to go ahead in the first place, despite repeated warnings from the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

“(The CFA) urged the organisers to cancel the event and yet we’ve got this situation where at least three people have been airlifted, multiple people taken out and a really dangerous environment for not just the people who go to the festival, but the local people as well,” Keely said.

“We need to make sure that festival organisers aren’t just taking the money, that they’re also taking responsibility for the patrons, particularly around their health and safety.”

Organisers eventually pulled the pin despite pushing ahead with altered set times on Friday and Saturday when temperatures reached the mid-30s.

Due to the location of the event, mobile reception was limited, making communication with attendees tricky.

Some attendees told 9News they had no idea the event had been cancelled as they had no reception to check their emails.

Keely said the organisers of the event should have stepped up earlier and claimed the issues were known well ahead of the start of the event.

“We all knew this was going to be a hot weekend, it’s an accident waiting to happen and unfortunately we’ve had some catastrophic outcomes this weekend,” she said.

“It’s just so sad to hear of any young person that’s lost their life, but particularly when we’ve got a music event where things haven’t gone quite as well as they could have.”

The incidents over the weekend have sparked fresh calls for the Victorian government to change its stance on pill testing.

The Victorian Greens said the latest suspected overdose highlighted the importance of pill testing in the community and at events.

Article credit: 9 News Australia. Image credits: Pitch Music & Arts Festival.

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