Cow Palace rave death being treated as overdose


Seton Medical Center in Daly City Tuesday transferred one of four critical patients to UCSF Medical Center. One other patient remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital. Anthony Mata, 23, of Santa Clara died late Sunday after doctors failed to revive him.

All attended a rave music festival at the Cow Palace Saturday night which drew more than 16,000 people.

At first, medical staff treating the victims believed the symptoms may have been caused by drugs tainted with chemicals like rat poison, but now Daly City police investigators believe those hospitalized simply overdosed.

"Right now, we're looking at overdose of drugs, probably ecstasy; we know that they use drugs that come in different dosages and people have different tolerances," Sgt. David Mackriss said.

More than 100 local, state and federal officers were at the Cow Palace the night of the rave. They arrested 73 people, mostly for selling drugs.

Friends and family of 32 of the suspects who did not make bail came to San Mateo County court Tuesday for their arraignment. The rest of those arrested will be charged within a month.

San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier says most of those arrested are from out of town.

"The interesting thing was, only three were from San Mateo County, the rest were from as far away as Seattle; so they're not coming here to go to the rave to go dancing," Tissier said.

Despite the seriousness of the case, no one will be charged with homicide since there appears to be no evidence at this time of tainted drugs.

"It takes some forseeability that giving them this, they're going to take it in excess and they could harm themselves before we can prosecute them for something else," chief deputy district attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The concert promoter, Skills DJ Workshop, says it welcomed undercover cops and released a statement, which said in part, "Regardless of these efforts, one fatality is too many, and our company will continue to cooperate with law enforcement."

An autopsy is being performed on Mata to determine his exact cause of death.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office released a statement about the rave Tuesday afternoon saying, "The governor is directing the California Department of Food and Agriculture to ask all fair boards in the state to review the event guidelines in light of the tragic events at Cow Palace this past weekend."

Police also arrested one person who was stabbing people at the event with a syringe, but they are treating it as an unrelated event.

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