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Last weekend, a man and woman both died after ingesting what police are calling “party drugs” at VELD music festival. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
Last weekend, a man and woman both died after ingesting what police are calling “party drugs” at VELD music festival. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Police recover pills linked to VELD music festival drug-related deaths Add to ...

Toronto police have recovered two types of pills that may be linked to the death of a 22-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman at Toronto’s VELD Music Festival.

Last weekend, a man and woman both died after ingesting what police are calling “party drugs” at the two-day music festival. Thirteen other people who attended the festival were taken to hospital after feeling ill from ingesting the drugs.

According to Detective Sergeant Peter Trimble, one of the drugs is described as a small brown pill, while the other is said to be a small clear capsule with a white substance. Tests on the pills are pending.

“There have been two postmortems completed on our two victims,” he said. “Neither victim had any anatomical cause of death and the cause of death right now is pending toxicology.”

The youngest of the 15 people who fell ill as a result of taking the drugs was 16 years old. According to police, the average age of the patients was 19 and most of the distress calls were placed late Saturday night leading into early Sunday morning.

The two pills were given to police after they issued a public appeal for attendees to turn over any drugs they purchased at the festival.

Det. Sgt. Trimble said it is unknown whether or not the victims ingested the same type of drug because in many cases “they didn’t know what they were taking.”

“Some [of the 13 people] remain in hospital. I understand they will all survive and make full recoveries and some have already been released,” Det. Sgt. Trimble said, adding that some of the victims suffered seizures. “Some people were taking upwards of 10 pills, some people were picking up pills on the ground,” he said.

Toronto police’s homicide squad was called in to investigate the deaths because they were a result of criminal activity that caused harm to more than a dozen people.

During a tour of a Toronto Community Housing building on Monday, Mayor Rob Ford told CP24 that the deaths are “traumatic,” but said he would continue to support concerts and festivals in the city.

“It’s up to the homeowner, or the permit owner, or whoever,” he said. “If you’re having a party at your house and someone dies at your house, it’s your responsibility. It’s the permit-holder’s responsibility.”

Charles Khabouth, the founder of INK Entertainment and one of the festival’s organizers, extended his condolences to the families of the victims in a statement and said that “safety and security have always been the number one priorities of the VELD Music Festival.”

Police say that upward of 30,000 tickets were sold for the event, which took place Aug. 2 and Aug. 3 at Toronto’s Downsview Park, and are asking anyone with pictures or videos from the festival to come forward or upload them to tps.on.ca/veld.

With reports from Sahar Fatima and Ann Hui

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