Oakland Woman Dies From Suspected Overdose at Coachella Festival

Kimchi Truong, 24, collapsed at the Empire Polo Club last Saturday and remained hospitalized until her death, the coroner's office reports.

An Oakland woman who collapsed while attending the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last weekend died at a Palm Springs hospital of a possible overdose of drugs and alcohol, coroner's officials said Friday.

Kimchi Truong, 24, collapsed at the Empire Polo Club last Saturday and was taken to JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio, then transferred to Desert Regional Medical Center, according to the Riverside County Coroner's Office. 

The coroner initially reported that she died at 2:25 p.m. Thursday of a "suspected overdose of illicit drug(s) and alcohol" at Desert Regional, then removed that statement from its website.

Coroner's officials declined to elaborate.  The Desert Sun reported that investigators haven't ruled out an overdose, but an autopsy and toxicology exam will be done to "identify other factors."

"An autopsy and toxicology test are being performed as part of the Coroner’s investigation," the coroner's office later added to their statement.  "Those results can take approximately 6 weeks to evaluate and the official cause of death will not be known until that time."

A statement was shared with Patch by the festival's organizer, Goldenvoice:

Last weekend, a festival attendee suffered an apparent drug overdose.  The individual was seen by on-site medical staff and later transferred to JFK Memorial Hospital and later to Desert Regional Medical Center.  

We are saddened to learn the individual has died. We believe this to be an unfortunate but isolated incident. 

Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends.

Indio Police Department spokesman Ben Guitron said police weren't contacted when Truong collapsed, and referred questions about her death to the coroner's office.

About 80 people were arrested at the festival last weekend, mostly for drug and alcohol-related offenses, according to Guitron.

He said no one has ever died at the festival, which is in its seventh year, but at least one attendee died outside the festival grounds, according to The Desert Sun. The newspaper reported that in 2008, 21-year-old La Mesa resident Benjamin Muller was found unconscious on private property in the 82- 500 block of Avenue 50, where he was camping, and was later pronounced dead.

On one of the festival weekends last year, 59-year-old Monte Gardner of La Verne, who worked as a security guard at Coachella, was killed when struck by a motorist allegedly high on drugs at Avenue 52 and Madison Street. It was unclear whether he was traveling to or from work at the time.

Guitron said festivalgoers need to be careful in everything they do, and be mindful of the law.

"It doesn't just have to be something illegal to pass away ... you still need to be careful. It's about choices," he said.

About 90,000 music lovers flock to both weekends of the perennially sold- out yearly festival.

– City News Service contributed to this report.


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