Grieving parents of concertgoer who overdosed want changes at festival

Alex Haynes and his son. Family photo

MELBOURNE, Fla. (WFLA) — For Meg and Paul Haynes it’s hard to grasp the reality that they won’t see their son alive anymore.

Family photo
Family photo

“It was the worse night of my life,” said Meg Haynes. “I’m not taking any time off work because if I sit on the couch that’s when everything falls apart.”

Their son, 22-year-old Alex, died Sunday at St. Joseph’s Hospital of what the medical examiner believes is a possible overdose. Haynes and Katie Bermudez, 21, died after they were rushed to the hospital from the Sunset Music Festival.

According to Haynes, others remain in the hospital in serious condition after drug overdoses at the festival. Tampa Fire Rescue tells News Channel 8 they rushed 57 people to the hospital from the festival.

RELATED: Drug overdoses suspected in deaths of 2 concertgoers

“I’ve always thought they should ban them. They know, everybody knows what happens at these concerts, it’s not just drinking it’s about the ecstasy,” said Paul.

Alex was engaged to be married and was the father of a 1-year-old boy. According to Paul Haynes, Alex worked multiple jobs to pay for a new home.

Family photo
Family photo

Meg Haynes tells News Channel 8 everyone should understand the hard reality of what happens when you overdose.

“When they tell you your son is running a 110-degree fever and he’s completely burning from the inside apparently that’s what Molly does, it burns you inside,” said Meg about the drug she suspects her son took.

“They had to put two chest tubes in my son, they had to open his chest, he had tubes in his nose, he had blood coming out of his ears.”

The grieving father turned to social media to warn others about the dangers of drugs. He posted the following on his Facebook page-

This is for anyone that has a teenager or young adult. I lost my son this morning to an overdose of ecstasy. He went to a concert last night to have a weekend of fun. He counted down the days for the last 6 weeks. Please talk to your kids before they go these concerts where everyone pops drugs and. Let them know that even the best person can die to these drugs. My son was not a drug addict. He was a good kid working 3 jobs to support his fiance and his one-year-old son. Just like when we were young and get into a car and drinking and driving after a night out sometimes luck is not on our side. He just went to a concert to have a good time for the weekend and things didn’t go his way. They found him unconscious on the ground so at least he went out having a good time. Please tell your kids not to do drugs they don’t want to listen because it will never happen to them . telling this story and say it can happen to them. I hope no parent ever have to go through this we will miss him very much.

Mega and Paul Haynes now have a request, hoping that city leaders in Tampa will help. They want changes, so others do not suffer their son’s fate.

“Shut it down, shut it down or get more protection out there.”

The president of the Tampa Sports Authority, which is in charge of Raymond James, where the festival was held, responded to the parents’ anger. Eric Hart talked about the future of the festival.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this tragedy during this difficult time,” Hart said. “Presently we are working with the event promoter and local officials to obtain more information about these incidents at the Sunset Music Festival. After this information has been obtained and discussed with our partners at the county and the city, we will present the findings to the Tampa Sports Authority Board for review.”

“After that review, we will be able to make a more informed decision as to the festival’s future at our facility,” he added.

The Sunset Music Festival released the following statement:

“Any loss of life is a tragedy and we extend our deepest heartfelt condolences. The health, safety and welfare of our fans and community are Sunset Music Festival’s top priority and we take extensive measures to create a safe environment. Each year, as we have done for the past five years, we sit down with the Tampa Sports Authority, Tampa Fire Department, and the Tampa Police Department to layout a comprehensive safety program that is based on their recommendations so that all police, fire, and emergency medical technician staffing meets the City’s threshold. As a supplement to that, Sunset Music Festival has added private security, a private drug canine team, and other first-responder and safety staff. As always, the festival provides free water and communicates regularly with patrons about safety. Sunset Music Festival does not condone, provide, encourage or otherwise, the use of illegal or illicit drugs.

The City of Tampa has been a first-rate host and partner of Sunset Music Festival and we are fortunate to call the City home. We hope to continue to provide jobs and revenue to Tampa, and joy to the patrons we serve, for many years to come. We have attempted to reach the Mayor and look forward to the opportunity to sit down with his office. Our goal is to work with the Mayor’s office and local authorities cooperatively so as to avoid incident at future festivals.”


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