Look at her. Bright, beautiful, intelligent, her whole life ahead of her. And dead.
Georgina Bartter, 19, was found unconscious and convulsing at the Harbourlife festival at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair this Saturday.
Friends reported the teenager, one of 5200 people at the festival, took one and a half pills, before she died of organ failure.A “beautiful, outgoing girl”, Georgina would not have taken drugs knowingly, her family told 7News.
Superintendent Mark Walton says a report is being prepared for the coroner. “(A post-mortem) is a matter for the coroner and the family and that will be determined next week,” he said.
An autopsy would find what was in the pill that contributed to her death.
The teen from Longueville on Sydney’s north shore was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital just before 5pm, but suffered multiple organ failure and died.
Police arrested 78 people at the waterfront dance party for drug offences.
Superintendent Mark Walton said he’s concerned large electronic dance parties are closely associated with illicit psychoactive drugs. “It does not matter what location they are held in, there is no doubt the nature of the entertainment is intrinsically linked to that drug use.
“She fell to the ground more or less and then people started waving down the security and paramedics,” witness Andrew Demetriou told 7News. “Quite simply, you do not know what you’re taking.”
In a statement, Harbourlife organisers said their thoughts were with the teenager’s family.
“We can hardly imagine the pain and heartbreak they must be feeling and they have our deepest sympathy,” a statement on Facebook said.
Organisers said a paramedic was with the girl just one minute after she collapsed. A first-aid tent at the festival included paramedics and an emergency doctor.
Police are asking anyone with knowledge about synthetic substance sellers to come forward.
The Bartter family has told 7News Georgina would never have taken the drugs knowingly althugh they later apparently said it was “very out of character”. But whether or not she did, she certainly didn’t expect to die.
Ms Bartter was the eldest of three children and graduated from Wenona private school last year, where she was a top student.
She had only just returned from a dream holiday to Europe during a study break from university.
Her close friends said they were “completely shocked” by Ms Bartter’s death and were receiving counselling last night.
“She was really lovely to everyone at school. She was the life of the party,” one friend said.
“Everyone’s in shock. She had so much potential and it was way too early.”
Ironically and sadly, Ms Bartter was born in 1995, the same year Anna Wood, 15, who became the face of the anti-drug war after she died from popping an ecstasy tablet at a rave party.
We have a message for the young of our country and all countries.
When you take illicitly supplied drugs you have no idea what is in them. The people who create these drugs and profit from them have no quality control, and no care for what damage they may or may not do. They simply want your money. Cocaine, for example, is regularly cut with poisons and other drugs (such as veterinary) that are not intended for human consumption. Psycho-active drugs can be a cocktail of whatever the drug maker has at hand.
You have no idea how your body will react to any illegal drug you ingest. Worse: just because you had no bad reaction last time does not mean the same will be true next time, because different drug batches contain different substances and mixtures.
We are not wowsers, by any means. We’re not talking here about the occasional puff on a joint. We are talking about the vast range of party drugs that have swept the world in recent years. You simply can’t know what’s inside what you are taking. And they can kill. Anyone. Suddenly, and without warning.
We have long argued that proper quality control is the strongest reason why illicit drugs should be legalised and regulated.
The other advantages of this approach would be a generalised harm minimisation regime, fewer casualties, more immediate access to advice for drug users, better and more freely available drug information, an inflow of tax dollars to fund better prevention and care provisions, and above all draining the criminal underworld of their vast financial wealth generated from illegal sales.
Prohibition has failed, and has little or no effect on the quantity of drugs illegally entering our society. Whole countries, like Mexico, are now in thrall to the trade, with over 100,000 deaths in that country directly attributable to it in recent years.
Many leading police officers and politicians around the world agree with us that a new way must be found, and fast.
Meanwhile the president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Alex Wodak, said the tragedy highlighted the need for a shift away from a “criminal- justice approach” to illicit drug use.
“Instead of relying heavily on law-enforcement measures like sniffer dogs we should be doing what they are in Europe and be providing pill testing,” Mr Wodak told The Australian.
“You can get the pills tested at these sorts of events and they will tell you what is in them – it turns it into a less dangerous practice.”
The widespread use of sniffer dogs could be counterproductive and encourage risk-taking behaviour, Mr Wodak said. “People who are carrying substances they have bought off the streets illegally might swallow excessive quantities in order to get rid of the evidence quickly and sometimes this has led to death.”
We say: Until drugs are legal and quality-controlled, or until someone can tell you everything that is in a pill and you can make an informed decision about what you are putting in your body, avoid them. Unless you think seeking a good time buzz is worth risking dying for.
Rest in peace, Georgina. Our deepest sympathies to you and all who knew you.