Two hundred and twenty six were injured, 114 taken to the hospital, including Grace Rodriguez's daughter Sasha who ended up with brain damage after drinking from a friend's water bottle laced with the drug ecstasy. Rodriguez now has to decide whether to take her 15 year old off life support.
"We were supposed to be planning her sweet sixteen party. Now I'll have to be planning her funeral," Rodriguez said.
These mega parties, called raves, are all-night dance fests with electronic music, often fueled by drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine.
"Obviously it's not advertised that this is a drug fest but I think it's well understood especially to those of us in the health profession what's going on at these raves and I would be very surprised if the county officials weren't aware of it as well," said Dr. Marc Futernick with the California Hospital Medical Center.
Raves began in the late 1980s and were mostly held in abandoned warehouses. Now, many are large, organized commercial events often in public facilities. At a rave at another state-owned arena near San Francisco last month, two young men died, likely from drug overdoses. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has now ordered a review of event guidelines at all state facilities.
Nationally, several major cities, including Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago, New Orleans and New York have cut down on raves by enforcing curfew laws and fire codes.
Los Angeles County emergency responders now prepare for races as "multi-casualty incidents," similar to planning for major emergencies such as commuter train crashes.
The people who run the Coliseum here in Los Angeles say they try to minimize drug use and injuries and that most people are just having a good time. But for too many that good time is ending far too badly.