'Mortal Kombat' drug link probed after teenager dies in Glasgow
- 3 February 2014
- From the section Glasgow & West Scotland
A drugs warning has been issued after a 17-year-old schoolgirl collapsed at a Glasgow nightclub and later died.
Regane MacColl, from Duntocher, West Dunbartonshire, became ill at The Arches club on Saturday night.
She died at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the early hours of Sunday.
Four other people also became ill in separate incidents in Glasgow and Ayrshire. Police said a red "Mortal Kombat" tablet with a dragon stamp on it could be the common link.
A post-mortem examination will be carried out to establish exactly how Ms MacColl died.
Linda Booth, head teacher at St Peter the Apostle High School in Clydebank, where Ms MacColl was a sixth-year pupil, said the teenager's death was "a tragedy".
"Our whole school community feels a deep sense of grief and our thoughts and prayers are with Regane's family and friends at this devastating time," she said.
"Regane was a popular, hardworking and enthusiastic pupil and staff always found her to be very pleasant and well mannered.
"This is a real tragedy for a girl who worked so hard and I'm sure she would have gone on to achieve so much in her life.
"We are doing everything that we can to support all of our young people and staff at this sad time."
Following reports of Ms MacColl's death, The Arches nightclub said it was assisting police with their inquiries.
In a statement, the venue said: "The Arches are deeply saddened by events that took place in the early hours of Sunday morning.
"First and foremost our sincere condolences go to the young woman's family.
"We are working closely with Police Scotland to assist them in any way we can with their inquiries into the circumstances of this tragic incident."
In other suspected drug-taking incidents, a 19-year-old woman was admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary but was later discharged.
Two 18-year-old men and another, aged 27, were admitted to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock.
One of the teenagers was later transferred to Hairmyres Hospital where he is in a serious but stable condition.
The other two men are still at Crosshouse Hospital.
Initial investigations have suggested that a red Mortal Kombat tablet, with a dragon stamped on it, could be the common link between them and Ms MacColl's death.
Supt Alan Cunningham, of Police Scotland, dismissed suggestions that a rogue batch could be to blame and said there were safety issues with all illegal drugs.
"The reality is that no illicit drugs are safe, they are inherently unsafe," he said.
"You don't know what the manufacturing process is. You can't believe, quite frankly, what anyone tells you around that process of what the contents are.
"So, our advice is, don't take any of these substances.
Dr Alastair Ireland, clinical director of emergency medicine at Glasgow Royal Infirmary - where Ms MacColl died - warned people about the dangers of taking Mortal Kombat pills and other illegal drugs.
"We are deeply concerned about people taking this dangerous drug and cannot stress enough the effects they can cause including death," he said.
"I would urge anyone who has taken one of these tablets and begins to feel unwell to seek immediate medical help."
As part of the investigation, a 19-year-old woman was arrested in Clydebank on Sunday over alleged drug offences. However, the arrest is not thought to be connected to Mortal Kombat pills.
She has since been released and is due to appear in court at a later date.
In the past year, various agencies and police forces across the UK have issued alerts about substances which contain para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA).
PMA is chemically similar to MDMA - ecstasy - and it is often sold as such. It is, however, much more toxic.
Dozens of deaths in the UK have been linked to the drug, a standard dose of which can be five-to-10 times stronger than ecstasy.
Carol Kelly, chief executive of drugs information and support charity Crew 2000, said illegal drugs such as the Mortal Kombat pills - which are thought to contain PMA - could cause life-threatening episodes.
She explained: "You could have irregular heartbeat. You could have difficulties associated with circulation.
"You can also, as a result of PMA, overheat very rapidly and that is a known cause of death amongst people who have consumed these substances."