A daughter, a sister, a friend is gone today. All because of one tiny, deadly pill.

Georgina Bartter. Image via Facebook.


Saturday was as warm as a summer’s day in Sydney.

For any young woman it would have been one of those days when life felt glorious, vibrant, alive.

With tickets to a dance party, a group of close friends and an atmosphere electric with life Georgina Bartter must have been buoyant, joyous.

Can you remember celebrating the simple fact of being 19? The possibilities were endless.

And yet today this young woman, a big sister of two siblings, a private school graduate, an adored daughter, is dead.

And the reason – almost undeniably – drugs.

Georgina, an accounting student who had just returned from a holiday to Europe, was at the Harbourlife Festival at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

Daily Mail reports that she had ingested one-and-a half “pills”.

It was just after 4pm when fellow partygoers noticed the young dark-haired woman shivering uncontrollably.

Image via @allegrabauchinger on Instagram.

“She seemed fine for a while and then she started shivering as if she was getting cold,” an unnamed friend told Daily Mail.

“She started going downhill from there.”

‘”I was with her for a while, just me and her, and I was there trying to give her a hug and keep her warm.”

An Irish tourist, Owen Mullins, wrote on Facebook that he noticed her looking unwell.

Georgina Bartter. Image via Facebook.

“I stopped and asked if she was OK … she didn’t respond.”

“I sat next to her and watched for about 30 seconds to one minute and returned to tell her friend that she needed help. She agreed and asked for a paramedic so I ran and got one.” He wrote, according to News Limited.

At 4.40pm police and paramedics were called to treat her.

She was lying at the bottom of a set of stairs convulsing.

Georgina Bartter. Image via Facebook.

Two of her friends accompanied her in the ambulance but tragically by the time she arrived at St Vincent’s Hospital – only 10 minutes away – she had gone into cardiac arrest.

Dr Gordian Fulde, the head of St Vincent’s Emergency Department told News Limited that doctors with “above world class” equipment and expertise worked desperately to save the teenager.

But it was too late.

The young woman with her whole future ahead of her had died.

Superintendent Mark Walton, commander of the Sydney City Command, told Fairfax Media no one ever knew what was in any drug.

Georgina Bartter. Image via Facebook.


There were 78 drug arrests at Harbourlife on Saturday. Amongst these was possibly the person who provided Georgina her ecstasy.

Superintendent Walton seemed baffled that young people took such dangerous substances.

“Young women, young men, they want to know the contents of everything that they eat, they’ll look at food labels, they’ll look at cosmetics, they’re very particular about things, yet some of them – 78 at least yesterday – turned up with the intent to consume some of those products.

“They have no idea what’s contained in them. It’s risky behaviour that we really should be trying to move away from.”

Georgina Bartter. Image via Facebook.

Her image now sits in newspapers alongside that of those lives lost too young – Anna Wood, Leah Betts, Nick Mitchell, Damien Trimingham.

The death of Anna Wood in particular marked a line in the sand regarding the way society tolerated drugs such as ecstasy.

She was 15 years old when she died in 1995 after consuming an ecstasy tablet. She collapsed into a coma and died due to water intoxication.

Anna Wood’s death led to initial public hysteria about the use of ecstasy but in the long run, it did increase awareness surrounding its use.

Eventually various state governments took up a Code of Practices for Dance parties – which in part made free water compulsory.

Anna Wood’s story was made into a book that is still circulated around high schools 19 years after her death.

Georgina Bartter was born the very same year that Anna Wood died.

Her parents at the time must have looked at the death of young Anna and held the same grave fears for their newborn daughter that any of us parents do when it comes to drugs.

No matter what Georgina’s drug history was, whether this was a one off, or whether – like many 19-year-olds – she had done it before, this is an undeniably tragic, desperate time of grief for her family and friends.

A badge featuring Anna Wood’s face was used to raise awareness after her death.  Image via Wikipedia.

Her family released a statement yesterday saying that she was “a beautiful and vibrant young woman, who was much loved and will be sadly missed.”

“She had allergies and it was extremely out of character.”

We can only all hope that this death, like Anna’s, somehow leads to greater awareness and overall safety for drug users in the future.

The path which leads to reducing the number of drug deaths is for the experts to determine whether it be decriminalisation – or to the other extreme – a tightening of the laws.

All we can do as a community is hope that the path does indeed lead to fewer deaths like Georgina’s.

Does the reporting of these high-profile deaths change your attitude to “recreational” drugs?