British teen dies in Columbia tribal ritualComment on this story
A British teenager on a gap year has been found dead in Colombia after taking a hallucinogenic drug in a tribal ritual.
Henry Miller, 19, who was due to go to university in September, had travelled to a remote rainforest area and taken Yage, which induces vivid hallucinations and supposedly spiritual experiences.
He took the drug twice with a local tribe but collapsed on the second occasion. Hours later Henry’s body was callously dumped on a lonely dirt road in the early hours of Wednesday.
It was discovered at first light and Colombian police are now investigating the death, and the people who supplied Henry with Yage. The drug is said by locals to kill several people there every year.
Henry, from Bristol, had been travelling around South America for some months, but had only recently arrived in the remote town of Mocoa in the Putumayo region.
Around a week ago he booked in to the Casa del Rio hostel. It continues to list the taking of the potentially lethal hallucinogen on its ‘things to do’ web page, saying: ‘Experience Yage, Indian tradition taking a medicinal plant which purifies and can make you hallucinate.’ The young Briton, who appears to have been travelling alone but had made friends on his travels, first drank it on Sunday without suffering apparent harm, then took it again on Tuesday night.
Henry travelled a short distance from his hostel to take the drug on the land of a shaman named as Guillemo Mavisoy Mutumbajoy, among a small group of tourists from around the world.
A fellow traveller at the Yage ceremony described the dreadful effects it had on Henry. Christopher Dearden said: “He wasn’t speaking, he was lashing out with his hands and feet.Then he started making weird animal noises, pig sounds and at one point he tried to fly.
“He kept saying ‘What’s going on, oh my God’ and holding his face.”
Mr Dearden said: “Henry was a complete innocent. He had no ego, he was very kind. He was the last person this should have happened to.” The 27-year-old, who is half French and half English, first met Henry on Sunday night when they made the 15-minute journey from a hostel in Mocao to the shaman’s land and drank a cup of Yage.
He said: “It had a strong effect on myself and my girlfriend Elena. I cried a lot but it had no effect on Henry.
“We had another ceremony on Tuesday night. There were about eight of us and we all had one cup each. You normally throw up soon afterwards because it is a very thick and not-very-nice liquid. We were all sick, including Henry.”
But while the rest of the group came out of the ‘experience’ Henry did not. “He just got worse and worse,” said Mr Dearden, who lives in France.
“He was lying face down on the ground making very weird breathing noises. We picked him up and put him in a chair.
“By 2am people were starting to go to bed and the shaman’s family said they would look after Henry so we went to our tent which was close by. In the next couple of hours while I tried to get to sleep I could still hear Henry deep inside his trip.” When Mr Dearden woke around eight or nine that morning he was surprised to find Henry was not there.
“While we were eating breakfast six policemen arrived and they asked us about Henry. They showed me a picture of the body. Police said he had a crack on the head. They said maybe he was thrown or fell from a motorbike.”
Mr Dearden said Henry told him he was from Bristol and was on a gap year before going to university next September.
Meanwhile, a BBC documentary filmmaker is feared to have drowned off Barbados.Jay Merriman Mukoro, 43, who was on holiday with his wife, was last seen wading into the sea for a swim on Sunday.
Another British tourist is believed to have fallen into a canal in the Netherlands and drowned following a night out. Wayne Davies, 22, went missing after leaving a nightclub in Leiden on Saturday. - Daily Mail