Rockfest fans party with caution after man dies at festival

Music fans at Montebello Rockfest were exercising a bit of extra care this weekend after a 25-year-old man died Friday of a suspected drug overdose.

Harm reduction groups handed out hundreds of naloxone kits, fentanyl test strips

People walk the streets of Montebello, Que., on June 16, 2018, during the annual Montebello Rockfest. One man died Friday at the festival of a suspected drug overdose. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

Music fans at a west Quebec rock festival were exercising a bit of extra caution this weekend after a 25-year-old man died Friday of a suspected drug overdose.

By Saturday afternoon, the final day of Montebello Rockfest, harm reduction groups had already handed out around 200 naloxone kits and at least a thousand fentanyl test strips.

"You never know. You can just save someone's life," said Josephine Pilon, who picked up one of the kits.

"If you find someone unconscious, then naloxone will give enough time for paramedics to arrive. So it makes all the difference."

Man found in cardiac arrest

Gatineau paramedics at the festival's campground — approximately halfway between Ottawa and Montreal — were notified of a man in cardiac arrest at about 8 a.m. Friday.

The man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Paramedics said his death could be drug-related.

As of Saturday afternoon, two other people had also overdosed on drugs at the festival, with one requiring the opioid antidote naloxone.

Alfonce Laplante picked up some fentanyl test strips on the final day of Montebello Rockfest because he wanted to be sure any recreational drugs he used were safe. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

"It's good to know that there's kits like that," said festival attendee Alfonce Laplante.

Laplante picked up some fentanyl test strips for himself, saying he wanted to be sure any drugs he used during Rockfest were not laced with the deadly opioid.

"[That way] I could still have fun and, yeah, be safe about it," he said.

Marie-Anik Gagnon, the nightlife harm reduction coordinator for Grip Montreal, said her crew had helped about 60 people during the festival with everything from dehydration and heat stroke to bad drug trips.

They were also offering sterilized syringes and pipes to festivalgoers, along with condoms, water bottles and earplugs.

"Today might be the biggest day for us because ... it's the last day and it's really really hot," Gagnon said. "We may have a lot of visits."

The three-day festival bills itself as the largest rock festival in Canada, with this year's big acts including Dropkick Murphys, Sum 41 and Weezer.

Marie-Anik Gagnon, the nightlife harm reduction coordinator with Grip Montreal, said her team had helped about 60 people at the festival by Saturday afternoon. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

With files from Kimberley Molina