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English police issue drugs warning after 15-year-old girl dies in cardiac arrest

The family of a 15-year-old girl who died following a cardiac arrest after taking what she thought was ecstasy have spoken of their devastation.

Martha Fernback allegedly took what she believed to be MDMA, or ecstasy, before falling ill at Hinksey Park in Oxford on Saturday.


A spokeswoman for the South Central Ambulance Service said they received a call from a member of the public at about 1.17pm yesterday to report a teenage girl in cardiac arrest.


A helicopter, ambulance crews and paramedics were dispatched to the scene.


Relatives of the teenager, from Oxford, described her as a “beautiful girl” whose sudden death has left them “utterly devastated”.


In a statement issued via Thames Valley Police today, her family said: “Our beautiful girl was taken away from us yesterday.


“She was the most extraordinary, effervescent human being and all her family and friends felt so privileged to have known her.


“We are all utterly devastated and have sought such comfort in the beautiful condolences we have received from everyone.”


Officers who are treating Martha's death as “unexplained” attended the scene and she was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital, but later died.


A 17-year-old boy from the Oxford area has been arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug in connection with the inquiry.


The death of Martha has prompted detectives to issue a warning to young people to avoid experimenting with illegal drugs such as MDMA, which is a class A substance.


Detective Inspector Brendan Murray said: “Following our initial inquiries we now understand Martha had taken a substance earlier that day which she believed was MDMA.


“It would be wrong to speculate on what this substance was or what caused her death, as the investigation is still at an early stage.


“I would strongly urge young people not to take or experiment with illegal drugs such as MDMA. They are extremely dangerous and often contain poisons and illicit chemicals which can prove fatal.”


A post-mortem examination will be conducted on Monday but the results of toxicology and histology tests may not be released for weeks.

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