As lab confirms GHB overdoses, a Main Street nightclub fights illicit drugs | ParkRecord.com

As lab confirms GHB overdoses, a Main Street nightclub fights illicit drugs

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

The Park City Police Department said lab tests have confirmed two people overdosed on a drug called GHB at the same Main Street nightclub on different nights earlier in the winter.

The two cases, one in January and one in February, were part of a string of at least five episodes of similar nature at Park City Live, the largest nightclub along Main Street. All of the people survived. The test results were forwarded to the Police Department as the authorities and the nightclub take steps to combat illicit drugs.

Darwin Little, a police lieutenant, said the department received results from tests taken in a case reported at just after midnight on Jan. 18 and in one logged at a little bit before 1 a.m. on Feb. 13. The Police Department said it did not have enough evidence to send to the lab in two other cases. Information about the fifth case was not available.

Little said details from the two confirmed GHB cases have been forwarded to the Summit County Attorney’s Office for screening for criminal charges. He declined to discuss whether charges are under consideration against the overdose victims or others. The investigations are continuing.

"Our concern is we have a fatality over this," Little said.

He said the Police Department is also worried since GHB is known as a date-rape drug and since users could become victims of other crimes.

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In the January case, reported at 12:11 a.m. on Jan. 18, emergency responders were called to Park City Live to treat someone who apparently drank too much alcohol. While the police were there, officers were summoned to a side door, where a different man was suffering medical problems. The police said at the time the case was suspected to be a drug overdose. The case involved a 25-year-old man from Draper who was taken to Park City Medical Center in an ambulance. Further information about his medical condition was not available.

The February case, reported at 12:45 a.m. on Feb. 13, was logged on the dance floor. Emergency responders were already at Park City Live at the time responding to an earlier case suspected to be a GHB overdose. In the 12:45 a.m. problem, a 25-year-old Georgia man was "in and out of consciousness and exhibiting signs of an overdose," the Police Department said in an online statement at the time. An ambulance took the man to Park City Medical Center. He was later flown by medical helicopter to a hospital in Salt Lake City.

The Police Department and Park City Live management have held talks about the situation that led to a series of steps taken by the management to combat illicit drugs. Little said a February meeting between the police and Park City Live representatives went well. The nightclub was "receptive" to the police patrols inside, Little said. He added that the Police Department for years has conducted patrols in Main Street nightclubs. The patrols have not increased as a result of the recent overdoses, Little said.

Park City Live officials said the recent efforts between the nightclub and the police are effective. Ryan Dahlstrom, the Park City Live general manager, said wide-ranging efforts are underway to ensure people do not bring illegal drugs to the nightclub. He said security guards check bags at the door and security guards ride a bus from the Salt Lake Valley that brings people to Park City Live. He said bags are checked prior to boarding and additional training has been held. Dahlstrom said Park City Live posts ‘Zero Tolerance’ signs prohibiting illegal drugs, weapons and smoking during concerts.

A few bottles labeled as eye drops have been confiscated during the bag checks after security guards suspected the liquid to be GHB or another illegal substance, Dahlstrom said. The nightclub has also created a more detailed report that is filled out by staffers after incidents.

Park City Live, meanwhile, has canceled a small number of concerts that were expected to draw a younger audience, he said. Dahlstrom said Park City Live researched GHB and its use by fans of electronic dance music prior to the cancellations.

"I’ve always taken the extra precautions to keep people safe," Dahlstrom said, adding, "That’s morals. People are humans. I don’t look at people as dollar bills."