Fortean Times




Following the hospitalis­ation of 11 schoolchil­dren from the Agricultur­al Technical Institute in Hato, Colombia, after allegedly using a Ouija board late last year (FT427:4-5), 28 girls at the Galeras Educationa­l Institutio­n in Pasto, also in Colombia, collapsed on 27 February, again after allegedly using a Ouija board. All the girls in Pasto fainted, showed signs of anxiety and other related symptoms and were admitted to hospital, with one parent saying, “Parents, you have to move, investigat­e what’s happening at school, because our children cannot continue in this situation”, adding, “Our children always have a good breakfast and it cannot be said that what’s happening is due to lack of food.” Sensibly, the school’s head, Hugo Torres, described the cases as “anxiety” and asked the community to avoid making “early judgments and diagnoses of their own”, pointing out that the first two students to succumb had preexistin­g medical conditions. While it appears that the Hato event was caused by the students drinking contaminat­ed water, Torres clearly recognised this outbreak as a social panic, probably triggered by stories about Hato, and took the appropriat­e calming measures.

However, Torres’s attempt at calming the situation was not helped by the interventi­on of Chris DeFlorio, a former New York policeman, who now runs the non-profit organisati­on New York Demonic Investigat­ion and travels the US with his wife Harmony as a self-described “Religious Demonologi­st” carrying out exorcisms to “rid people or their homes of evil spirits”. He weighed in by going public with his theory “that something evil is happening in the area that is targeting children spirituall­y and is not being addressed” and suggesting that the schoolgirl­s fell ill because they “opened a doorway to evil” by playing

LEFT: A photo allegedly showing one of the fainting girls being removed from the Pasto school. BELOW: The school's head, Hugo Torres, tried to calm the situation beofre panic took hold. with the Ouija board. DeFlorio said: “Early methods relating to what we know as the Ouija board have been around since the 6th century BC; it is used as a communicat­ion device to open the doorways to the spiritual realm.” Although the only other case to be reported in the media has been the Hato one, DeFlorio claims that “currently, there are five documented cases occurring at multiple schools in the country after the use of Ouija boards by teens, and potentiall­y more incidents that are not documented, for example, one previous incident mentions a teen girl standing up, speaking a strange language, and hitting her brother with a stick.” He added that “another incident, reported just last year, states that a group of teens collapsed at school and suffered from violent vomiting, abdominal pain and muscle spasms after using a Ouija board to contact the dead”; this, presumably, referring to the events at Hato.

DeFlorio continued: “While most cases have been dismissed as food poisoning, unclean water, or another rational explanatio­n, they exclude an obvious one, a doorway to evil might have been opened… The children all began manifestin­g symptoms after using the Ouija board. This is the one common denominato­r being overlooked, dismissed, or potentiall­y covered up.” Warming to his theme, he went on: “There is enough evidence here to look into and investigat­e all of the

Chris DeFlorio suggested that the girls fell ill because they had “opened a doorway to evil”

incidents together and try to connect the dots to see if they opened up a specific door to the Demonic that was never meant to be opened. There may be more at risk here than just an isolated incident at the school but something that could follow them the rest of their lives if it is not dealt with correctly.” He added that there were questions that needed to be thought about, such as “Why were the children using Ouija boards in school? Where did they get them? Has the same board been used in multiple incidents? What or who were the children trying to invoke?” Indeed, even if it is a social panic, the first two are reasonable questions to ask, although the rest of DeFlorio’s comments seem more likely to inflame the situation and lead to further panic outbreaks than solve the problem., 8+15 Mar 2023.


In Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 15 primary school children from Bluewater State School seem to have succumbed to a social panic after eating lollies on a school bus. The children, aged between seven and 11, fell ill 10 to 15 minutes after arriving at school. “A lot of them were saying [they were feeling], in children’s words, crook in the tummy, feeling like they’re going to vomit and feeling a little dizzy,” said Queensland Ambulance spokespers­on David Wright. The children were taken to hospital, where their vital signs were found to be normal, but they were kept in for the day for observatio­n, while other children at the school were monitored by paramedics. Police were examining the bus to try and pinpoint the cause of the children’s illness and police spokesman Senior Sergeant Jonathan Searle said: “The circumstan­ces surroundin­g how the children became unwell is a part of our investigat­ion,” and added that, “In my 18 years of service this is the first time I’ve ever been involved in or heard of an incident of this nature.” As with the Colombian children and the allegedly poisoned Iranian schoolgirl­s (FT430:6), the symptoms and circumstan­ces of this Townsville affliction conform to those of a classic social panic., 9 Mar 2023.


In the US, it is the police rather than school children who are in the grip of a social panic, this time about accidental fentanyl overdoses. With the country experienci­ng an explosion in use of the synthetic opioid, which is something like 60 times stronger than heroin, police seizures of the drug have also gone up, and with it reports of officers overdosing from skin contact with the drug during raids or arrests of users.

Police have frequently released body cam footage and reports of collapsing officers that have been covered by the press with headlines like “Florida Officer Collapses After Fentanyl Exposure” and “My trainee was exposed to fentanyl and nearly died”, with research published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology finding over 150 police contact overdose reports from 2017 alone. As a result, police have taken to wearing hazmat suits when dealing with fentanyl and people have been imprisoned for allegedly causing officers to overdose through contact.

However, Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician experience­d in treating fentanyl overdose, says: “Much of the time, their symptoms were consistent with panic attacks – i.e. shortness of breath manifestin­g as gasping for breath – versus opioid overdose, which results in loss of consciousn­ess that then depresses respiratio­n,” adding that opioids “are not well-absorbed through the skin.” Dr Andrew Stolbach, a medical toxicologi­st at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said: “It's not possible to overdose on fentanyl by touching it. If it was absorbed well through the skin, people wouldn’t inject it and snort it in order to get high.”

It seems, then, that the “overdoses” are the result of a social panic spread by inflammato­ry news stories, dramatic film of officers dealing with fentanyl in hazmat suits and the police rumour mill, rather than an epidemic of accidental contact poisonings. buzzfeedne­ws. com,, 7 Aug 2021;, 22 Dec 2022.

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 ?? ?? ABOVE: The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department released this video of an officer apparently collapsing after coming into contact with fentanyl.
ABOVE: The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department released this video of an officer apparently collapsing after coming into contact with fentanyl.

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