“It was scary as Hell”

Couple thinks they may have been drugged at Wapiti Music Festival that took place in Fernie earlier this month.

A couple from Canmore, Alta., who said they think they their drinks were drugged at the recent Wapiti Music Festival want the public to be on the lookout for drink tampering.

Mark Single, 30 and Kristina Forester, 28, came to Fernie for the festival on Aug. 7 and said they think drugs were slipped into their drinks in the beer gardens on the Friday night.

Both Single and Forester said they can’t remember many details of the night within an hour of consuming the drinks, and woke up in the Elk Valley Hospital around 3 a.m. on Aug. 8.

“It was scary as Hell,” said Single. “We were paralyzed, literally paralyzed. [Kristina] couldn’t even speak. They said that I was talking but I don’t remember a word of it.”

The couple said Forester went to get drinks for Single and a friend of theirs who was also in attendance.

Adhering to the Wapiti policy, Forester could only buy one drink at a time. She said a man of average build with a beard and dark hair was in line next to her and offered to hold her drink while she went to get the other drinks.

“[The man] was right there, talking to people, and he bought one beer for me, and while I went to buy a cider, he was holding both of the beers. And those were the drinks that my boyfriend and I had.”

Single said he and Forester had been drinking before the festival, but said he did not believe it was enough to warrant six hours of memory loss.

“We had the drinks, it would have been about 8:30 [p.m.]. I have some text messages and phone calls that I made at 9:30 [p.m.] that I don’t remember making,” Single said, “The ambulance and everybody was there, neither of us remember any of that, getting to the hospital.”

The couple, who were staying at the Travelodge for the weekend, said they believe they left the festival grounds around 10 p.m. and called 911 for help, but are unclear of any kind of timeline of events.

“We both kind of remember struggling to get home, and I have a bit of a memory of pretty much dragging my girlfriend the last bit, because we knew that something was pretty wrong,” said Single.

The RCMP confirmed they received an ambulance report detailing the situation.

Wapiti organizer Kevin McIsaac said this was the first he has heard drinks being tampered with in his 5-year history with the event. “Wapiti is a pretty family-friendly environment. It’s pretty tame. To the best of my knowledge, there have been no drug incidents in the past,” he said. “We express great concern about anything of that sort happening at our festival because we pride ourselves on being [an] extremely family-friendly and safe environment for all.”

Single and Forester say they came forward with their story because they want to raise awareness about date rape drugs and drink tampering. “It was scary to be in the hospital, but I actually felt a lot safer to be there, so I felt kind of glad because I really didn’t know what was wrong, so it was good to know that somebody is helping you. I’m just glad that somebody came to help us,” said Forester.

Dean Nicholson, the executive director of East Kootenay addiction, said he encourages people to be cautious of their drinks and taking drinks from strangers. “You don’t want to be accepting drinks from people that you haven’t seen, or you haven’t seen the drink being made or poured,” he said. Along with this, he promotes the “buddy system”, and having a friend look after your beverage if you have to leave it, but to never leave a drink unattended.