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Officers warn about drug use after woman dies at Penticton music festival

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PENTICTON, B.C. - Officers issued a warning about drug use after the early Saturday morning death of a concertgoer at the Boonstock Music and Arts Festival in Penticton.

RCMP say a 24-year-old woman from Leduc, Alberta, was taken to hospital from the event grounds and declared dead from a suspected drug overdose.

Police say there were at least a dozen others being treated for overdoses in the wards, and two people were in critical condition.

Officers will not release the woman's name until they notify her relatives.

Boonstock organizers offered their condolences to the woman's family and thanked guests and security who helped first responders.

Barb Haynes, the director of operations at the festival, says the event will continue as scheduled but declined further comment, instead referring to a statement made by organizers Saturday afternoon.

"The culture of a music festival is one that provides a place where everyone belongs, is welcomed and watches out for one another," Boonstock officials wrote in a Facebook post. "We would like to acknowledge our medical team, security team and guests who were quick to find help and assist emergency responders."

"Lastly, and most important, we send our condolences to the family and loved ones of this young woman. We are deeply saddened by this news and send our thoughts and prayers."

The death has made officers worried about drug use at the festival.

Const. Kris Clark wrote in a statement Penticton RCMP are concerned more people could die if concertgoers fail to take care of their health.

"Police are asking all Boonstock attendees to refrain from ingesting unknown substances and to ensure that they remain hydrated in the hot, dry, dusty conditions of the event grounds," he wrote.

It is easier for people to overdose when they are dehydrated and have mixed drugs with alcohol.

Many of the concertgoers were unaware of the death on Saturday.

Thirty-two-year-old Steve McWilliams attended the festival and says many people do not have cell phones at the event, and communication is sparse.

"I have no idea of what happened or the situation, but it's pretty horrible news," says McWilliams, who owns a printing and design company in Calgary. "You can't hold the festival responsible for actions of somebody on their own accord."

"They have security here and medical personnel," he says. "Overdoses unfortunately do happen."

The three-day event concludes Sunday with a performance by Grammy-winning hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. (Penticton Herald)

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