Twenty-one-year-old Ultra-goer Adonis Peña Escoto died March 30 after attending the second night of the three-day EDM fest, but the cause of his death had been a mystery until now. A Miami-Dade Medical Examiner report obtained Thursday by New Times at last sheds some light on what killed him.
The report shows that the young mechanic passed away due to "acute alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP) toxicity." Alpha-PVP is a type of synthetic bath salt sometimes sold as "gravel." Escoto's death marks the second straight year that an Ultra attendee has died due to such synthetic stimulants.
Escoto was an Ultra regular, according to his older brother Dionis. On Saturday, March 30, the younger Escoto and his friends went to see DJs like Alesso and Martin Garrix.
But Escoto wasn't feeling well, so his friends took him to their car to lie down before heading to hear Deadmau5 on the main stage.
When they returned to the car shortly after midnight, they found Escoto unconscious. He died shortly afterward at Aventura Hospital.
At the time, Escoto's family said he didn't do drugs. His aunt Rosa suggested that someone might have slipped something into his drink -- not as unlikely as it sounds given that an Ultra-goer nearly died in 2012 from accidentally drinking water laced with antifreeze.
The ME report, however, suggests Escoto was partying pretty hard before his death. Alcohol and cocaine were also found in his blood.
But the cause of death, according to the ME, was a little-known drug called alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, or alpha-PVP.
Alpha-PVP is occasionally sold as "bath salts" or "gravel" and acts much like methamphetamine. It is also sometimes called "smokin' slurrie."
Like other bath salts, alpha-PVP has been blamed for a number of bizarre attacks around the world. An Australian truck driver on the drug allegedly tore off his clothes, began foaming at the mouth, and climbed a barbed-wire fence before falling into a coma and dying.
Other alpha-PVP users allegedly climbed trees or rolled around in the grass like animals. And a Missouri man is accused of murdering his own son after taking the drug.
During the 2013 edition of Ultra, 20-year-old Anthony Cassano of New Jersey also died after overdosing on a different type of bath salts.
The two deaths, combined with this year's near-fatal trampling of an Ultra security guard, prompted local politicians to propose shutting down or moving the wildly popular music festival.
But Ultra was allowed to remain in Bayfront Park after promising to increase security at next year's event.
(An Ultra spokeswoman says that the festival has "a zero tolerance drug policy.")
Adonis' aunt said she was unaware of the medical examiner's report.
"He never did that before," Rosa Escoto said in disbelief when told of the drugs in her nephew's system.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.