Father’s plea help for fans

BE­REAVED DAD’S RE­AC­TION TO LAT­EST MU­SIC EVENT DEATHS

The Chronicle - - Front Page - By SO­PHIE DOUGHTY Crime Re­porter so­phie.doughty@ncj­me­dia.co.uk @So­phie_Doughty

IT was a flash­back al­most too painful to bear.

When Chris Bell read of the tragic deaths of two young fes­ti­val-go­ers at the week­end he was in­stantly trans­ported back to the mo­ment he learned his own daugh­ter had died in heart­break­ingly sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances.

It has now been al­most two years since Me­gan Bell lost her life when she suc­cumbed to a fa­tal dose of Ec­stasy at the T in the Park fes­ti­val in Scot­land.

Af­ter hear­ing of the two sus­pected drugs deaths at the Mutiny dance fes­ti­val in Portsmouth on Satur­day, Chris fears vi­tal lessons have not been learned from his beloved daugh­ter’s death.

As in­ves­ti­ga­tions into this week­end’s tragedy con­tinue, Chris has told of his heartache at see­ing his­tory re­peat­ing it­self, and is­sued an ur­gent warn­ing to other par­ents ahead of the sum­mer fes­ti­val sea­son.

The 46-year-old, from County Durham, said: “It has brought it all back. I don’t feel like any­thing has been learned from Me­gan’s death. Our hearts go out to the fam­i­lies of these two peo­ple. We know first­hand what they are go­ing through and it’s heart­break­ing. It’s such a waste of two young peo­ple who have just gone out to en­joy them­selves and now they are not com­ing home.

“We would never have imag­ined our fam­ily would be put through some­thing like this. It is the worst thing that can hap­pen to you.”

Me­gan was one of two teenagers to die at T in the Park in 2016.

An in­quest heard the 17-year-old had more than three times the lethal amount of MDMA in her sys­tem when she died.

Chris can re­mem­ber vividly read­ing that a woman had died at the fes­ti­val Me­gan was at on his phone, to­tally un­aware that it was in fact his daugh­ter. This week­end he learned of the Mutiny deaths in the same way.

“I logged on my Sky News app and I saw that two young peo­ple had died,” he ex­plained. “It was al­most like a flash­back.

“At the time when I saw it on Sky News I didn’t re­alise it was my daugh­ter. It said a ‘woman’ had died at T in the Park, but I didn’t think of Me­gan as a ‘woman.’ I re­mem­ber try­ing to get in touch with her, and I couldn’t. As the day went on, panic set in. Then when the po­lice turned up at the door I knew straight away.”

Ge­or­gia Jones, 18, and Tommy Cowan, 20, died in hos­pi­tal af­ter at­tend­ing the Mutiny Fes­ti­val, on Satur­day.

Hours ear­lier fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers is­sued a ‘harm pre­ven­tion alert,’ ap­par­ently warn­ing about the use of drugs. A to­tal of five peo­ple have now been ar­rested.

Fol­low­ing the deaths, or­gan­is­ers can­celled the sec­ond day of the week­end fes­ti­val.

Chris, who lives in Sea­ham, had hoped that lessons would be learned from Me­gan’s death. But he fears mu­sic fes­ti­vals re­main law­less events where drugs are freely avail­able, and there are not enough staff or po­lice of­fi­cers to keep the huge crowds safe. Chris is now call­ing on the Govern­ment to take ac­tion.

“The thing that makes me an­gry is that noth­ing seems to be get­ting done,” he said. “Since Me­gan died there have been other deaths.

“The Govern­ment needs to have a look at the reg­u­la­tions for these fes­ti­vals. They are just too big to po­lice. There’s not enough staff and not enough po­lice. The drug-deal­ing is just bla­tant and there’s noth­ing done about it.”

The dad, who has three other chil­dren, added: “It’s not just the drugs, it’s the al­co­hol and the vi­o­lence.

“Me­gan was very sen­si­ble for a 17-year-old girl. “But when you are 16, 17 or 18 years old you are still a kid, you are still learn­ing. You don’t think about the con­se­quences.”

Chris Bell, father of Me­gan Bell

Fam­ily pic­ture of Chris and his daugh­ter Me­gan

Tommy Cowan

Ge­or­gia Jones

Me­gan Bell

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