Honolulu police investigate death of UH Hilo athlete
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the night of March 31, 5,000 young people jammed into Wet 'n Wild Hawaii for the Digital Wonderland music festival.
Friends said 19-year-old Rachel Clute was there, too.
She was on spring break from her studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where she ran on the cross country team.
"Her first day of practice she couldn't even run five miles. At the end of the year she became not just a runner, but someone who could compete, actually compete at the college level," coach Jaime Guerpo said.
At 2:25 a.m., April 1, Honolulu police responded to a medical emergency.
Rachel was unconscious in a car at Wet 'n Wild. Law enforcement sources tell Hawaii News Now she may have gotten the drug Ecstasy in the parking lot.
"It can have a disastrous impact," said Alan Johnson, CEO at Hina Mauka rehabilitation clinic.
Ecstasy acts as a stimulant. The drug can speed up the heart, raise blood pressure, and cause liver or heart damage that can result in death.
"Every person's brain chemistry is different," Johnson said. "This one person could come along and this drug can have way bigger impact than another one. Then all of a sudden you have a really serious thing."
Rachel was rushed to the hospital. Friends tell us she was in a coma. She died on April 10.
Wet 'n Wild rented out the park to Digital Wonderland for the party. Management said music festivals happen there twice a year.
In a statement, general manager Takuya Ohki said, "Rachel's medical condition and subsequent death was unrelated to the general operation of the park. There were no rides or attractions operating during the event. Our deepest condolences to the Clute family for their loss."
Guerpo said Clute's cross country teammates are in shock.
"She was always good around the team and always encouraging," he said. "Your personality is what you're born with. Your character is how you build it to be, and her character evolved just by running in cross country. We'll just miss her kindness and what she brought to the table as a person."
Rachel was pursuing a degree in kinesiology and exercise science. She graduated from Castle High School. Police have now opened an investigation into her death.
On Friday, the Medical Examiner's office confirmed that Rachel died of anoxic encephalopathy due to toxic effects of methamphetamine and ecstasy. Her death was ruled as an accident.
Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved