At least 2 revelers confirmed dead at Wonderfruit Festival

Throngs of dancers packed The Quarry early Sunday morning to see Berlin-based, Japanese DJ Masda. Photo: Coconuts
Throngs of dancers packed The Quarry early Sunday morning to see Berlin-based, Japanese DJ Masda. Photo: Coconuts

At least two people died at this past weekend’s Wonderfruit Festival held southeast of Bangkok in Chonburi province.

A massive, post-lockdown celebration with a turnout dwarfing previous years, the festival was swarmed with party-goers across 50 hectares at the Siam Country Club, where at least two died including an Indonesian wakeboarder and veteran Bangkok DJ who was performing at the festival.

An officer at Chonburi’s Nong Prue Police Station said that Indonesian national Kimo Rusna was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to an online profile, Rusna grew up in Australia, where he fell in love with wakeboarding. In 2015, he opened Bali’s first wake park, which hosts local and international competitions. A manager at Bali Wake Park said Kimo was no longer involved with the park.

“He died at hospital because of a heart attack,” his wife, Dewa Sri Luce Rusna, told Coconuts. “We are currently in grieving. Thank you so much for the attention.”

Lt. Col. Anuchet Katsomboon told Coconuts that witnesses told investigators that Rusna toppled from “the stands” onto the ground at one of the venues. The deputy station chief said an autopsy was being conducted, but preliminary investigation determined Rusna was under the influence of either alcohol or narcotics. Anuchet said he was declared dead at Pattaya Memorial Hospital. The hospital said this afternoon one patient from the festival died there but would not confirm that it was Rusna.

Early Saturday morning, Swiss national Guillaume Wyss, aka Bangkok DJ Boogie G, was found unresponsive and taken to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital. Witnesses said that an associate found Wyss and thought he was sleeping in one of Wonderfruit’s many fields. He did not respond to attempted resuscitation and festival medics were notified.

A veteran in Bangkok’s underground music scene, Wyss was a founding partner of Preduce Skateboards and hosted a slew of popular nightlife events such as the long-running Nite Ride series at Studio Lam. Wyss founded party promoters Music Makes Me High and Qommon and also performed regularly at venues and events such as Tropic City and Transport.

Wyss had played an early Friday morning set at the festival from midnight to 2am, and his wife of 14 years, DJ Pich Wyss, had been scheduled to play Saturday evening.

“We’re devastated by the loss of our husband, father, son, brother and friend Guillaume Wyss aka Boogie G,” Pich wrote of his passing on social media. “He was loved and he loved you all.” 

While Nong Prue police had no report on Wyss’s death, the shift supervisor at Bangkok Pattaya Hospital confirmed last night that he was brought to the hospital at 5am and pronounced dead. A hospital nurse said they had worked to get his heart beating again.

Lt. Ying Siriyakorn of Nong Prue police said today they were investigating one death and looking into reports of other fatalities. 

Later Saturday, Wonderfruit published a post on “Staying Safe at Wonderfruit” that urged attendees to stay hydrated and look after their friends and noted the number and location of medical services.

Wonderfruit representatives said they were the first fatalities to occur since the festival was founded in 2014.

“We are deeply saddened to have learnt that two attendees who fell ill at Friday’s night’s Wonderfruit passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and Pattaya Memorial Hospital,” spokesperson Chatchai Saengpetch said in a statement. “The investigations are underway to determine the cause of death. Wonderfruit are working closely with the authorities to help with any queries.”

She said that the festival moved quickly to provide aid.

Update: After deaths at Wonderfruit, attendees complain festival ‘ill-equipped and negligent’

“Both cases had been very quickly brought to the attention of on-site medical staff, who assessed and treated the patients immediately, before they were taken by ambulance to the hospital,” the festival wrote.

Wonderfruit reps said their thoughts and prayers were with the friends and families of those who died.

Wonderfruit is a lifestyle and music festival that usually takes place every December, drawing crowds in the tens of thousands. Spread over a large expanse of gently sloping fields, the festival features daytime events that range from sustainability and yoga to new age practices and design. The festival featured camping areas, many food booths, and more than 14 stages with a diverse range of music genres.

But the festival’s biggest draw is its late-night parties, where revelers roam between stages playing dance music and techno parties that continue into the morning. Many attendees consume party drugs, and festival security made a show of intercepting and dumping those consumed conspicuously.

Wonderfruit stressed that it has a no-drugs policy.

Organizers said 25,000 people attended this past weekend festival, 25% more than the 20,000 it reported in 2019. The festival ran Thursday through Monday for its seventh edition after being canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic.

Update: An earlier of this version attributed Wonderfruit’s statement to a publicist for Dutch dairy company FrieslandCampina. The festival requested that it be attributed to spokesperson Chatchai Saengpetch.

Additional reporting Amahl Azwar, Coconuts Bali