2 concertgoers died of heart attack
THE INITIAL findings of the National Bureau of Investigation showed that two of the five people who collapsed at a concert in Pasay City on Saturday died of a heart attack.
Based on the autopsy report submitted by NBI chief medico legal officer Wilfredo Tierra, this was what killed Lance Garcia, 36; and Bianca Fontejon, 18.
However, the NBI—which is conducting a parallel investigation into the circumstances surrounding the victims’ deaths—said that it has yet to determine what caused the two to develop heart failure.
“Examinations (general toxicology and dangerous drugs determination) were requested to determine the ingestion or presence of toxic materials and dangerous drugs which could have probably initiated the heart attack,” Tierra noted in his report.
He added that determining the type of illegal substances may take at least two days.
Earlier, the family of the third victim, Ariel Leal, 22, refused to subject his body to an autopsy. On the other hand, authorities were still trying to get permission from the families of the remaining victims, American Eric Anthony Miller, 33; and Ken Migawa, 18.
In a press conference on Monday, Felicisima Francisco, executive officer of the NBI’s chemistry division, said that based on the autopsy report, the victims suffered from high blood pressure, causing their hearts to rupture.
“The finding of the medico legal officer showed that their blood pressure went up to 240. That is very high. Their hearts ruptured,” Francisco told reporters.
She declined to give more information, referring the media to Tierra. At press time, however, Tierra had yet to respond to the Inquirer’s phone calls.
For his part, NBI Director Virgilio Mendez said that confirmatory exams were still ongoing.
The NBI said it was looking into the possibility that the five victims died of a drug overdose.
A source who asked for anonymity, citing the lack of authority to speak to media, said that some of the victims may have taken a mixture of drugs, one of them ecstasy.
This was also one of the angles being explored by the Department of Health.
“We are actually waiting for samples to be submitted to us for testing,” Health Secretary Janette Garin told reporters in an interview on Monday.
But she doubted whether there would be enough samples—like a cup of the drink the victims allegedly consumed before their death—to make a toxicology test conclusive.
“We are also asking for the comprehensive description of each case,” Garin said.
There were reports on social media that the five died after ingesting drug-laced drinks but the police said it was too early to jump to this conclusion. Other angles being checked out were heat stroke, considering that the venue was packed, or dehydration.
Garin, however, said that the symptoms exhibited by the victims before death, including difficulty in breathing, palpitations, loss of consciousness and heart attack, were more indicative of the use of dangerous substances than heat stroke.
“There is a possibility of use of illegal drugs because these are really the effects of such. Patients [develop] palpitations, they can hyperventilate or they can have difficulty breathing until they turn blue. Others have spasms,” she added.
In the wake of the incident, Garin reminded young people to exercise extreme caution when partying and to refuse drinks from strangers. “Be sure that you are safe with your friends and that you are not taking in something that is spiked [with dangerous substances],” she said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police clarified that its men are usually tasked to guard the perimeters or the outside areas of privately organized concerts and similar events.
“Most of the time, that’s the agreement with organizers: that perimeter security is with the PNP and that they would have their own event security,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said in a press briefing on Monday at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
The five victims, who did not appear to know each other, collapsed during the “CloseUp Forever Summer” outdoor concert held at the SM Mall of Asia grounds on Saturday night. They were found in different areas of the venue and taken to the hospital where they passed away the following day.
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