Coachella Faces First Overdose Death

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is now dealing with its first-ever overdose death after Kimchi Truong passed away from a reported drug or alcohol overdose.

The 24-year-old, a student at California State University-East Bay, collapsed during the first weekend of the festival on April 13. She was treated by on-site medical staff before being transported to JFK Memorial hospital and later to Desert Regional Medical Center. Truong passed away on the afternoon of April 17. The results from toxicology reports will be released in approximately four weeks.

Event promoter Goldenvoice said they were “saddened” over Truong’s death, but did not believe it was a sign of a larger problem. “We believe this to be an unfortunate but isolated incident,” said Goldenvoice in a statement. “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends.” Truong was expected to graduate from her university in 2016 and was fluent in Vietnamese, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Although Coachella hasn’t experienced an overdose death before, local police have actively tried to stamp out drug use during the festival. A total of 80 arrests were made during the first weekend and it’s believed almost all of them were substance-related. All 23 arrests that Friday and 30 arrests that Saturday were due to drugs or alcohol, while it’s believed most of the 27 arrests that Sunday were for similar reasons. For weekend two, 28 arrests were recorded Friday, with eight related to drugs and 20 related to alcohol in the form of public intoxication or underage drinking.

A total of 80 arrests were made during the first weekend and it’s believed almost all of them were substance-related.

Substance arrests at Coachella have been rising steadily. In 2011, 49 arrests and 48 medical transports were recorded, while that number nearly doubled with 90 arrests in 2013. The festival has also dealt with two deaths that weren’t drug-related; a festival employee was killed last year while directing traffic and a festival-goer was found dead at an off-site camp ground in 2008.

Police worked with Coachella organizers to keep drugs and alcohol out of the festival through security checks, but felt it was ultimately up to those attending to monitor themselves. “The only thing that is left now is the choice of the public, the people themselves, when they come to this festival… do you want to spend time enjoying the festival or do you want to spend time being treated by medial staff or being treated by law enforcement and not be at the festival,” said Indio Police spokesperson Ben Guitron. “Just be a little bit more responsible.”

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