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City cancels final day of Electric Zoo dance music festival after deaths of two concertgoers, possible sexual assault

Two drug overdose deaths and a possible sexual assault triggered the cancellation of the Randall’s Island electronic music festival. ‘Molly’ consumption is suspected. Additional revelers were hospitalized as well, officials said.

By Richard Zitrin, Barry Paddock andBill Hutchinson - Source: http://www.nydailynews.com
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

The killer drug overdoses of two concertgoers and the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl prompted the city to abruptly cancel Sunday’s finale of the Electric Zoo music festival on Randalls Island.

Jeffrey Russ, 23, a graduate of Syracuse University, and Olivia Rotondo, a 20-year-old student at the University of New Hampshire, died after taking doses of a popular party drug.

Russ, of upstate Rochester, and Rotondo, of Providence, R.I., both died at hospitals Saturday after ingesting MDMA, a powerful form of Ecstasy better known as “molly,” cops said.

Photo from Facebook Syracuse grad Jeffrey Russ, 23, was rushed to Harlem Hospital on Saturday morning but couldn't be saved.
Photo from Facebook
Syracuse grad Jeffrey Russ, 23, was rushed to Harlem Hospital on Saturday morning but couldn’t be saved.

“Now there will be no grandchildren, no nieces, no nephews, no wedding,” Russ’ heartbroken father, John Russ, told the Daily News. “Everything you look forward to in life is gone because of one pill.”

The fifth annual electronic dance music festival, which drew tens of thousands of fans to Randalls Island on Friday and Saturday, was to conclude Sunday with headlining deejay sets by Armin van Buuren, Sebastian Ingrosso and Laidback Luke.

Photo Facebook Olivia Rotondo, 20, of Providence, R.I., was taken from the festival to Metropolitan Hospital at 8:45 p.m. Saturday and died about 50 minutes later.
Photo Facebook
Olivia Rotondo, 20, of Providence, R.I., was taken from the festival to Metropolitan Hospital at 8:45 p.m. Saturday and died about 50 minutes later.

But the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg scrapped the final day after rampant drug use took a frightening and lethal toll.

Four other concertgoers were treated for apparent overdoses in intensive care units at local hospitals and 31 people were arrested on drug-related charges during the first two days of the event.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Russ was taken to Harlem Hospital after Friday’s concert, when he began exhibiting signs of an overdose at 3:10 a.m. He died at 3:21 a.m., cops said. At 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Rotondo was taken from the concert venue to Metropolitan Hospital, where she died at 9:36 p.m.

Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

“The Electric Zoo organizers have worked with city officials to reduce health risks at this event, but in view of these occurrences, the safest course is to cancel the remaining day of the event,” the NYPD and Bloomberg said in a joint statement.

A 16-year-old girl reported waking up under a van in the event’s parking lot Friday with her pants down and her legs scratched and bruised, cops said. She was treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell. The NYPD’s special victims unit is investigating.

Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

“These events are out of control, and they shouldn’t be happening on park property,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

Before they died, both Russ and Rotondo took to Twitter.

“The amount of traveling I’ve done today is unreal. Just get me to the damn zoo,” Rotondo, who was studying communications at the University of New Hampshire, tweeted.

The festival attracted more than 100,000 people last year.
The festival attracted more than 100,000 people last year.

Rotondo posted a Twitter photo of her feet in giraffe slippers with the message: “Am I ready for @ElectricZooNY or what?” She also lamented booking “a non refundable hotel in Chinatown that is the scariest place on earth.”

“She was an amazing girl. Very polite, respectful,” a neighbor of Rotondo’s family in Providence told The News.

Brian Killian/WireImage
Brian Killian/WireImage

Russ, who graduated from Syracuse University last year with a degree in information technology, was also excited to attend the music festival. He went to the concert with his Sigma Chi frat brothers.

In his final hours, he tweeted a photo from the festival and expressed admiration for Avicii, one of the deejays who performed. “Avicii saved my life,” he tweeted without explanation.
“I actually spoke to him Friday — and he was so happy. He was having so much fun,” said Russ’ sister Melissa Russ, 25

Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

Some who attended the festival complained that tighter security could have prevented the tragedies.

Andrew Edvin of Clifton, N.J., said he was shocked nobody searched his CamelBak hydration bag like at other concerts when he attended the festival Friday and Saturday.

“Not once was I asked to open it, and not once was I patted down,” Edvin, 23, told The News. “The security and staff along the entrance route did nothing to prevent drugs from being brought in.”

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com

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