Student dies after possibly inhaling 'whip-its' during rave

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by Alicia E. Barrón

azfamily.com

Posted on May 17, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 17 at 5:21 PM

PHOENIX – Police are investigating the death of a female high school student who possibly inhaled a dangerous chemical during a social gathering typically called a rave.

Melissa Gastelum, 18, collapsed on Saturday at about 10 p.m. while at the Madison Event Center near Madison Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Phoenix.

She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Investigators believe several students at the event may have been inhaling nitrous oxide, sometimes referred to as “whip-its.”

"I lost my child," her father said. "We were planning a graduation party for her. Now we gotta plan a funeral. You know how hard it is?" asked her father.

Melissa's sister said, "My sister, she didn't go to this party to die."

Gastelum was about to graduate from Maryvale High School.

"We do not know what the cause of death is in this case," Phoenix Sgt. Trent Crump said. "We have a very strong message that bad things can happen to good people."

Police are still investigating her death but are treating it as a death unknown.

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