Drugs and drink damage boy, 12

The Dominion, 2 January 1998

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A 12-YEAR-OLD Takaka boy with a suspected ruptured pancreas caused by excess alcohol and drugs was taken from The Gathering - a two-day New Year dance party in Motueka - to a medical centre.

Red Cross unit leader Mike Price said the boy was extremely drunk, had taken drugs and had an erratic heartbeat. He was with friends and his parents were not there.

An emergency medical team attended to the boy before he was taken to the Motueka medical centre. The ambulance's journey along the one-lane unsealed road was hampered by a stuck vehicle blocking the access.

Mr Price said there were more people using drugs and alcohol than at last year's inaugural party on Takaka Hill, west of Nelson. "There are plenty of spaced-out people drugged to the eyeballs." Mr Price said many were being dealt with by a new addition to the event, a public welfare and support team.

Several people had been taken away by ambulance after suffering serious injuries. One woman had the liquid contents of a fluorescent tube splashed in her eyes. Another woman had a bad cut on her face from broken glass. About 200 people had been treated for minor injuries such as ankle sprains and cuts, and for problems associated with drugs.

Organisers said a lot of alcohol was confiscated at the gate despite the event's being advertised as free of drugs and alcohol. The event has attracted about 10,000 people.

Annie Coughlan, The Dominion, 2 January 1998

Letter from the boy's friends to Gathering organisers

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