Young mum's temperature soared above 'unsurvivable' 42C after taking half an ecstasy pill


A devoted mum died after her body temperature reached an 'unsurvivable' 42C after she took half an ecstasy pill at a music festival.

Stephanie Thorpe, 32, had met with friends at the Postal Order pub in Blackburn before heading to the Restricted Forest Festival at Witton Park on Saturday, June 25, 2023.

She was observed taking half an ecstasy tablet just before leaving for the event.

While at the festival, she appeared to be dancing and enjoying the atmosphere until around 6:30pm when she suddenly collapsed. Paramedics who attended to her found that her temperature had spiked to a critical 41.6C, eventually reaching around 44C.


Temperatures above 40C are considered "extreme" and can be life-threatening. The inquest at Preston Coroner's Court was told that her condition was "unsurvivable".

Stephanie was rushed to Royal Blackburn Hospital, but by then her organs had begun to fail, and she was pronounced dead. The inquest, which took place on April 18, revealed that survival becomes highly unlikely once a person's core temperature hits 42C, reports the Mirror.

Family and friends gathered at the inquest heard that although Stephanie was only seen consuming half of a 'White Dove' ecstasy tablet, there was a possibility that she might have taken more during the festival. Despite having used ecstasy previously at dance events without adverse effects, this time proved fatal.

Dr Mark Clayton, a medical expert specialising in event planning and healthcare at music festivals, has shed light on the 'perfect storm' of circumstances that led to Stephanie's tragic death.

He explained: "If someone is drinking alcohol your body is less able to break down MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) because the liver is focused on the alcohol and that can also cause dehydration. When you're dehydrated it hyper concentrates all substances in the blood and increases the relative concentration. If the environment is above 20C you are more likely to suffer harm from ecstasy and more likely to suffer serotonin syndrome or a high temperature."

He further added: "Once you cross the 20C threshold the risk of harm increases and there were multiple factors at play. Stephanie was dehydrated; she was seen dancing a lot and sweating and it was a very hot day so her ability to lose heat was impaired."

"She was only seen taking half a tablet in the beer garden but once you take the first dose it saturates the system so if you take more those pathways are already working at full capacity. Multi-dosing is related to an increased risk of harm."

Dr Clayton warned that without "active cooling or organ support", the chances of survival for someone suffering from ecstasy overdose are almost non-existent. "Once you pass 42C the likelihood of survival is very, very low," he concluded.

The inquest shed light on the inadequate medical facilities and the challenges of accessing free drinking water at the dance music event. Dr Clayton highlighted that while the law mandates licensed venues and events to provide free drinking water, festival-goers often neglect it when they are "in the zone" and having fun.

"People don't drink water at festivals because it's not easy to get hold of," he said. "Any licensed premises has to provide drinking water free of charge but they can charge for the glass. People who are 'in the zone' don't want to go off and drink water."

The hearing was informed that ecstasy use is rampant at music festivals, with a staggering 87 per cent of attendees admitting to using drugs in the past year. "It's part of festival culture," Dr Clayton remarked.

Addressing Stephanie's friends and others who indulge in ecstasy at such events, Senior Coroner Dr James Adeley urged: "If you are attending festivals just be careful please. On the other hand I don't want to be an entire killjoy but take it gently please."

Concluding the inquest with a verdict of accidental death rather than drug-related death, the coroner expressed: "This is a situation where a young woman is taking a tablet that she doesn't know the strength of and combined with a range of other contributing factors - the heat of the day - in my view this was an accidental death."

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