A hostel in Medellin, Colombia, where 32-year-old Irish backpacker David Thorne allegedly suffered a fatal drug overdose on Easter Sunday, told Colombia Reports it denies allegations that the hostel was “slow” and “inept” in their response to the incident, and that staff “did nothing to help.”
Stephanie Penaranda, the manager of the Pitstop hostel, says that Thorne’s death “was the consequence of his own actions,” and that police told the hostel that “even if we had a hospital next door he would have died.”
Penaranda says that any delay in giving Thorne proper medical care is not the fault of the hostel but of “the healthcare of Colombia” and that “we called a lot of hospitals and ambulances, those services were inept, not the staff.”
The Pitstop has medical insurance which covers all guests, and anyone in need of medical attention will receive it immediately, according to Penaranda.
The manager confirmed that the backpacker had been taking drugs in the hours leading up to his death; other guests told her after the incident that Thorne “was doing cocaine and acid the night before,” and that they had asked him to “calm down,” before the traveler began suffering convulsions at 8 AM.
The police carried out a search of Thorne’s room and found anti-depressant pills “which are deadly when combined with liquor and drugs,” according to the manager.
“Apparently he was a drug addict, he had been six years before, and he started doing drugs again,” said Penaranda.
The manager was keen to point out that Thorne “did not die at the hostel, he had convulsions here but died on arrival at the hospital.”
There will be no police action taken against the Pitstop.
When asked about the Pitstop’s reputation as a “party hostel” with a lax stance on drugs – its website says “We have swimming pool & lots of space to relax & space to party” – the management said that this does not imply any tolerance of drugs.
“What we mean by ‘party hostel’ is a hostel which provides more different activities than other hostels, we have a bar and a pool and we organise parties, but everything is shut down by 2 AM … if people want to keep partying they have to go elsewhere.”
The manager said that the Pitstop has a strict anti-drugs policy, and does not allow either drugs, or liquor bought outside the hostel, to be brought onto the premises. “If we find someone doing drugs they are thrown out immediately.”
All guests must sign an agreement when they check in, agreeing to the rules of the hostel, including its anti-drugs policy.
A message posted on Friday on the Lonely Planet travel forum says “I am Orladh David’s cousin, we received the devastating news on Easter monday, we have lost a son, brother, cousin, friend….he was 32 and loved by all he met.”
An Irish local newspaper reports that Thorne was from County Longford, and that his family were informed of the death earlier in the week.
According to an eye-witness account posted on the Lonely Planet travel forum, the man was sitting by the pool at 8 AM on Sunday at the Pitstop hostel in Poblado with “other partiers,” when he suddenly “fell out of his chair by the pool and started having a seizure, an apparent drug overdose.”
An ambulance was called, and Thorne was pronounced dead in hospital.