Shambhala regularly draws 10

Year in Review No. 5: A death in the Shambhala family

Tragedy struck at Shambhala this year when a young man died following a suspected drug overdose.

Part of the Star’s look back at the top stories of 2012.

Tragedy struck at Shambhala this year when a young man died following a suspected drug overdose at the electronic music festival outside Salmo.

Mitchell Joseph Fleischacker, 23, of Sidney collapsed on the festival’s third day. First aid attendants responded quickly and found him unconscious but breathing.

He received emergency treatment from a doctor, registered nurse, and paramedic on site, then was taken by ambulance to Trail, but suffered cardiac arrest en route and couldn’t be revived. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

The file was turned over to the BC Coroners Service, but the final report hasn’t been released.

Coroner’s office spokeswoman Barb McLintock said their investigation would include an autopsy and toxicology analysis, and review the circumstances that led up to the death.

“We can take a fairly wide view and look into what was going on at the festival, if [the death] was related to where he was or what was going on there,” she explained.

Fleischacker grew up in Stettler, Alberta, and worked at a sheet metal company in Victoria. He was in trouble with the law a few years ago for drug possession and underwent treatment.

On Facebook, his friend Kristy King remembered him for his generosity towards her and her children and his cooking. She said he’d attended Shambhala for several years.

“You collected your tickets from Shambhala the last four years like badges of honour. You loved it,” she wrote. “We are going to miss you horribly.”

It was the first death in the festival’s 15-year history. Shambhala attracts 10,000 people each year and has a reputation for drug use, but it’s not sanctioned by organizers, who incorporate harm reduction strategies into their planning.

In addition to a fully staffed field hospital on site, social workers and mental health professionals are available to support festival goers. Professional security staff search for drugs and alcohol at the festival gates.

Star reporter Megan Cole, a music festival veteran, was on site that morning.

“As I spent time with the executive producers and organizers during this tragic time,” she wrote, “it became apparent the family behind Shambhala not only cares about each other, but has extended that to the people that call the farm home for the duration of the festival.”

A Star editorial, which said it was unfair to blame festival organizers for the death, was by far the most read in the paper’s history, judging from the website hits it received.

“We were saddened by news a young man died at Shambhala Music Festival,” it began. “The unfortunate incident, however, should not define this year’s festival. Nor, as some have suggested, should this spell the end of the event.”

The editorial went on to say that a single death in 15 years given the size of the festival was a “rather incredible statistic,” and praised organizers for doing their best to minimize the use of illegal drugs.

“It boils down to individual choices. Those who decide to do drugs take a risk. Sometimes that risk has grave consequences.”

 

Just Posted

Voters pack Nelson mayoral forum

Candidates answered questions from journalist Glenn Hicks

EDITORIAL: Nelson mayor’s race uninspiring

An incumbent mayor, a former mayor and a clown walk into a forum

Nelson downtown holiday lighting by mid November, city says

But for this year, only on the 400 block of Baker Street

COLUMN: What Wayne Stetski did on his summer vacation

The Kootenay-Columbia MP talks cimate change, farmers markets and Bill C-281

Provincial energy incentives complement Nelson’s EcoSave program

B.C. offers homeowners new financial incentives for energy retrofits

VIDEO: Drag story time a hit at Kootenay Kids

The childcare centre invited a local performer to read to its kids

Koreas agree to break ground on inter-Korean railroad

The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Flash floods kill at least 7 people in southwest France

Flash floods have left several people dead in southwest France, with roads swept away and streams become raging torrents as the equivalent of several months of rain fell overnight, authorities said Monday.

Trump to visit Florida, Georgia; search ongoing for missing

The death toll from Michael’s destructive march from Florida to Virginia stood at 17.

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

A new poll suggests Canadians have a lot to learn about the accomplishments of some of the country’s most famous women.

Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community

The district says areas of access to the community of about 54 homes could be expanded, depending on advice from a geotechnical engineer.

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Most Read