Smokers blamed after boy misses Six60 concert after asthma attack

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Monday, 25 February 2019, 2:30p.m.
Riley Heath on the way to Starship Hospital after suffering a severe asthma attack triggered by smokers at the Six60 concert. (Photo / Supplied)
Riley Heath on the way to Starship Hospital after suffering a severe asthma attack triggered by smokers at the Six60 concert. (Photo / Supplied)

One of Six60's "biggest fans" missed their set on Saturday after a severe asthma attack, which his parents say was triggered by smokers at the "smokefree" event.

Riley Heath, 8, had been counting down the days until he could see his favourite band rock Western Springs Stadium in Auckland.

Riley's family quickly snapped up tickets to the record-breaking concert as soon as they went on sale last year. In the past two weeks he could not stop talking about it.

He and his family had travelled up from Matamata to Auckland for the weekend, especially to see Six60.

"He is their biggest fan," said his mother Jacinta Heath.

The event was touted as smokefree, but it appeared nobody was following the rules, Heath said.

Riley Heath on the way to Starship Hospital after suffering a severe asthma attack triggered by smokers at the Six60 concert. Photo / Supplied

Riley Heath on the way to Starship Hospital after suffering a severe asthma attack triggered by smokers at the Six60 concert. Photo / Supplied

Whilst sitting on the embankment watching the opening acts, Riley's breathing became shorter as people in groups smoked cigarettes and marijuana around the family.

Heath asked a group to stop because it was affecting Riley, and they told her they had no idea the event was smokefree.

By the time Drax Project had finished shortly after 7.30pm, Riley's asthma had become much worse. His inhaler was not helping.

"He was coughing uncontrollably, holding his chest saying, 'I can't breathe'," Heath said.

"He'd never had it that bad before. It was scary."

Heath rushed him down to the St John paramedics, who put him on a nebuliser, and gave him medication and oxygen.

But there were people smoking right outside the ambulance, which only made Riley's asthma worse and they made the call to take him to Starship Hospital.

He spent three hours there, and was spending the week home from school to recover.

Heath said Riley was upset at missing his favourite band.

"He was also upset me and my husband missed it. They started playing while we were in the ambulance, and he was saying, 'You guys go'."

Heath said the St John staff had been "amazing".

"They were completely run off their feet, with idiots passed out and vomiting, but they took such great care of Riley."

Riley Heath missed his favourite band Six60 at Western Springs in Auckland on Saturday after suffering an asthma attack triggered by smokers. Photo / Supplied

Riley Heath missed his favourite band Six60 at Western Springs in Auckland on Saturday after suffering an asthma attack triggered by smokers. Photo / Supplied

Heath said there needed to be better signage and enforcement when concerts were advertised as being smokefree.

Apart from a message on the loudspeaker as they entered the arena there were no other indications it was a smokefree event.

"There were no bag checks, people were even walking in, holding packets of cigarettes in their hands.

"When we were in the ambulance with St John paramedics, there were people leaning against it, smoking.

"My husband told them their smoking was giving our son asthma, but they ignored him. He then asked two police nearby to do something about it but they said nothing.

"It was really frustrating."

They had already made plans to return for next year's concert, and hoped the smokefree policy would be better enforced.

"We will be heading to their next summer concert, hopefully with his asthma under control."

The event spokeswoman has been contacted for comment.

 

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