Perth drug overdose victim who escaped death laughs while three remain critical

One of the victims of a mass drug overdose in Perth on Tuesday evening has returned to the Victoria Park home after being discharged from hospital.

In footage captured by 9 News Perth, the man, who was one of nine rushed to hospital following the overdose, can be seen laughing while still wearing his hospital robe.

Royal Perth Hospital staff have said several of the victims would have died if not for ambulances called in the nick of time.

Paramedics were called to a Colombo Street, Victoria Park house just after 11pm on Tuesday and found seven men and two women either unconscious or violently ill.

They arrived at emergency departments including Fiona Stanley, Sir Charles Gairdner and Royal Perth hospitals in what RPH physician David McCutcheon described as “agitated delirium”, hallucinating and confused, with racing hearts and soaring body temperatures.

“They didn’t know where they were,” Dr McCutcheon said.

“They were rolling around on their stretchers.

“It is lucky someone called an ambulance.

“Several of these people would have died without medical attention … their bodies were overheating, they were having seizures.”

Six people have been discharged from various hospitals but three men remain in critical condition, in medically induced comas and on life support at RPH’s Intensive Care Unit.

It is still not known what the drugs were, though an occupant of the home told Nine News reporters it was named “zombie”.

Organised Crime officers seized a white powder being analysed by the Chem Centre. A report is expected within 24 hours.

RPH staff confirmed the drug was classified “sympathomimetic”, but this did not narrow it down much. Methamphetamine, synthetic cannabis and LSD all belonged to this group and so did hundreds of other synthetic compounds. Synthetic drugs were becoming more common and the “cluster” of symptoms presented was similar to those in many drug overdoses.

Toxicologist Jessamine Soderstrom said bodies overheating at such temperatures for a certain length of time had meant a body’s proteins being literally “baked” to death. But she was optimistic that given help had been sought the patients would recover.

None of the patients had yet been formally identified, but police believed they knew who the group was, acting deputy commissioner Gary Budge said. Investigators were unsure if the young people knew the drugs were illicit. A “rigorous” investigation was being conducted.

RELATED READING: ‘It was insane’: Neighbours’ shock at suspected mass overdose

Speaking about the incident on Wednesday, Health Minister Roger Cook said it showed how dangerous illegal drugs could be.

“We have grave concerns for these people who were so badly impacted by these drugs,” he said.

“You simply cannot trust illegal drugs.”

Meanwhile, neighbour Sebastian Arevalo and his partner Sophie Barnett described the scene as “insane”, with people being wheeled out of the house on stretchers, some unconscious, some spasming, punching and kicking.

“All of them you could tell they were not on this planet, they were off in their own world. It was so scary,” Ms Barnett said.

The neighbours said they had seen numerous people coming and going from the property, and assumed it was a temporary hostel for international backpackers.

Anyone with information relating to the incident have been asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online.

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