Haunting images of generation who died forever young
Seven years is a long time but in grief time moves differently.
"Some days it feels like yesterday, some days it feels like: 'Did you really even exist?" Adriana Buccianti, who lost her son Daniel told The Ripple Effect.
"I remember when Daniel died, I just wanted to feel normal. But this is my new normal."
Daniel Buccianti, 34, died at the Rainbow Serpent festival in Beaufort, Victoria, in January 2012, due to a combination of drugs.
"Every time you hear of a person dying at a festival, it does bring it all back," she said.
"Because you know what these families have to go through. The stigma attached to someone who dies from a drug overdose is really huge.
"It's really difficult to say my child died of a drug overdose."
Her grief is shared by the families and friends of 17 other young men and women whose lives were cut short after taking drugs at music festivals. They are more than just statistics.
Ebony Greening, 22, and Dassarn Tarbutt, 24 - April 2019, Rabbits Eat Lettuce festival near Warwick, QLD
Much-loved "beautiful souls" to their family and friends, the pair from Nambour and Maleny had their lives ahead of them when they were found dead in their tent on the final day of the festival. The first drug-related festival deaths in Queensland in more than a decade - a cocktail of drugs were found to be the cause of their deaths. Toxicology results showed both had a potentially lethal concentration of MDMA in their system.
Alex Ross-King, 19 - January 2019, FOMO, Parramatta, NSW
A strong-willed leader, a good listener and everyone's best friend, free-spirited Alex had graduated from Narara Valley High on the Central Coast and was saving money to go travelling when she died. Remembered as sweet, funny, a loving friend and daughter, she hated seeing people being left out, said her mum Jennie Ross-King. "She touched a lot of people … she was just beautiful." Alex passed away after taking three MDMA pills and drinking alcohol at the FOMO festival.
Joseph Pham, 23 - September 2018, Defqon. 1 near Penrith, NSW
Joseph was studying teaching and living at home with his parents and siblings when he attended Defqon with a group of mates. Community-minded and full of promise, his mother told an inquest of a generous young man who loved to share his time and money with family.
He enjoyed playing online games with friends and attending taekwondo twice a week.
Joseph had been posting excitedly on social media about the Sydney music festival before he went: "Pumped and ready to have a good time". The 23-year-old from Edensor Park died from MDMA toxicity at Nepean Hospital after taking an unknown quantity of pills.
Diana Nguyen, 21 - September 2018, Defqon. 1 near Penrith, NSW
Melbourne airport worker Diana had "loads of friends and loved going to school". Extremely close with her family, who she lived with, she had recently become engaged to her long-term boyfriend Andy. She loved eating out, playing futsal with Andy and, like the rest of the 30,000 patrons at the sold-out event, she loved hardstyle dance music. "Those who knew her described her as a happy and energetic person who loved going out," counsel assisting the coroner Dr Peggy Dwyer told an inquest into six drug-related deaths at NSW music festivals. "But she wasn't known for taking a lot of drugs."
Callum Brosnan, 19 - December 2018, Knockout Games of Destiny, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
A gifted musician, devoted son and brother, and loving boyfriend to Hayley, Callum had won a place at the Sydney Conservatorium and wanted to be a film score composer. In the last year of his life, he also worked with young people on the autism spectrum.
The teen, who died after taking between six and nine MDMA caps, was known to friends as a "beautiful, thoughtful, honest and intelligent" man. His father, Cornelius Brosnan told an inquest his "forever loyal son" was a remarkable young man who always put his friends first. "(He) taught us many things about life that without him we would be none the wiser."
Joshua Tam, 22 - December 2018, Lost Paradise, Central Coast, NSW
A talented rugby player from Queensland, Josh's effervescent personality touched not only his family and school mates but sporting coaches, work colleagues and teachers. His confidence and wit brought great joy to family - and it was his big heart that continually saw him surrounded by friends. A loving brother and son with a passion for rugby, rugby league, WWE wrestling and mixed martial arts, he never hesitated to jump into a play fight with his mates or father but equally enjoyed sitting around doing nothing with those closest to him, an activity he called "just mossin". He died after consuming MDMA and alcohol at the Central Coast festival.
Jacob Langford, 22 - January 2017, Rainbow Serpent Festival, Lexton, VIC
The brightest spark that would light up the room, Jacob was adored by family and friends as an inspiration and "a hero to his cousins, aunties and two sisters". A passionate chef and skateboarder who enjoyed making people laugh, friends said he "brought nothing but love" to everyone he met. Jacob, who attended the festival with a group of friends, died from "multi-drug toxicity" after suffering a cardiac arrest. He had drank amyl nitrate instead of inhaling it at the festival. A post-mortem examination revealed a total of 16 substances in his bloodstream including alcohol, MDMA, MDA and temazepam.
Nathan Tran, 18 - December 2017, Knockout Circuz, Sydney Showground, NSW
Hoang Tran, known as Nathan, was a quiet, gentle young man who had just finished high school and harboured dreams of becoming a police officer. The much-loved son of parents who emigrated to Australia from Vietnam, he was living with his family and working at a McDonald's restaurant. Nathan's mother described him as "very honest, loveable and nurturing son and as having a sense of humour and a happy person". His close mates thought highly of him and he remains deeply missed. Nathan died after sharing a bottle of water mixed with MDMA and buying four capsules of the drug. The normally mild-mannered computer fan had to be restrained to get him into a medical centre. He died of MDMA toxicity and had traces of the deadly PMA in his system.
Sylvia Choi, 25 - November 2015, Stereosonic Music Festival, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
When pharmacist Sylva died after drinking MDMA dissolved in water at Stereosonic, the death of the intelligent, promising young woman shattered friends and colleagues. The bright 25-year-old from Oyster Bay in Sydney's south was a HSC distinguished achiever in advanced English at Gymea Technology High and was just three years into her career as a chemist at a Miranda pharmacy. School friends remembered a talented, "amazingly kind girl" who had a bright future ahead: "It's such a waste of a beautiful life".
Stefan Woodward, 19 - December 2015, Stereosonic Music Festival, Adelaide, SA
The much-loved 19-year-old who lost his life after taking ecstasy at the Adelaide festival left his family with a lifetime of heartache. The happy, fun-loving young man was a gifted lacrosse player and a sweet-natured brother to his two siblings. Stefan worked at a supermarket while completing Year 13 at Seaton High School, and was heavily involved in the Woodville Lacrosse Club. He had just finished a traffic management training course and was excited about getting an apprenticeship. An "all-round champ", friends flooded social media to remember the good-natured man: "A whole town is devastated. R. I. P Stefan Woodward, fly high, you will never be forgotten".
Nigel Pauljevic, 26 - September 2015, Defqon. 1 Festival, Penrith, NSW
The former Albury High School student known as Big Nige thanks to his generous height wasn't a big drug user or even that into dance music but he loved spending time with his mates. Nigel had suffered his share of hardships in his early 20s, when his mother and best friend died within weeks of each other, and the easygoing gentle giant was known for making time to listen to friends. The family described him as a beautiful young man. "He was a sensitive soul, so caring and loving, always looking out for others, putting their needs before his own," the family said. "We miss him so much."
Tolga Toksoz, 19 - February 2015, A State of Trance, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
Tolga, 19, had been working as an apprentice technician for Foxtel and had just received his security licence when he died. The Kellyville teen took an unknown quantity of ecstasy pills. Tolga was taken to the Concord Hospital in Sydney where he was pronounced dead. At the time, his father said he was a good, young kid who got into a situation where he was pressured by his peers.
Anne Nguyen, 23 - October 2015, Dragon Dreaming festival at Wee Jasper, NSW
Anne, who went by the name Anneke Vo on social media, was a budding writer who described herself on her blog as shy with a curious mind and a "professional daydreamer". She had joined fellow revellers for the four-day music festival on farmland about a three-and-a-half hour drive from her home in Berala in Sydney's West. Loved ones expressed dismay at the loss of the young woman's "beauty, intelligence depth and wisdom" after she was found dead at the event. Anne had taken a tab or "sugar cube" of what she thought was LSD. The cause of her death was later found to be ethylone toxicity.
Georgina Bartter, 19 - November 2014, Harbourlife festival at Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Sydney, NSW
The eldest of three children, Georgina graduated from a top Sydney private school where her former principal described her as a bright young woman with an infectious sense of humour. An accounting student, she loved her family, was a devoted big sister and friends adored her as a "flurry of energy" and a "bright spark". Clever and independent, her nature was to err on the side of caution and, while on holiday in Europe after Year 12 she had turned down the chance to ride a motorbike, saying: "I'm not doing that. Bupa doesn't cover that". She called her parents daily as she travelled through Greece, Spain and Croatia. She collapsed at the dance music party after a suspected adverse reaction to drugs and later died in hospital.
James Munro, 23 - September 2013 at Defqon. 1 Music Festival, Sydney's International Regatta Centre, NSW
A gentle boy who did not drink or smoke but had admitted to using ecstasy on a couple of occasions, James, who had driven from Victoria with two mates to attend the festival, collapsed within half an hour of entering the gates. He told paramedics he had taken three pills, which he believed to be ecstasy before he suffered a series of cardiac arrests.
Daniel Buccianti, 34 - November 2012 at Rainbow Serpent Festival, Lexton, Victoria
A talented chef with a lust for life, Daniel was a loving son, brother, uncle and friend who worked hard, was liked by all and had a cheeky personality. In his late teens, Daniel tried a few careers including being a chef and working with people with autism which, his mum says, he loved. He headed to university to study agricultural science and was dubbed "farmer Dan" by his friends and family. "He saw himself as a tree-hugging hippy," said his mother Adriana, who described him as her best friend.
Gemma Thoms, 17 - February 1, 2009 at Big Day Out, Perth, WA
Described by her best friend as "fun, bubbly and outgoing", 17-year-old Gemma dreamt of becoming a hairdresser before she overdosed on ecstasy at Perth's Big Day Out festival. Honest, polite and caring, her grandparents said she was "a vibrant, beautiful, free spirit" while friends remembered a young woman with a beautiful energy and passion for life. Gemma died in hospital the day after taking three ecstasy pills before she entered the BDO festival in Perth.
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