UK & World News

  • 28 April 2014, 2:19

Drug Ritual Backpacker's Body Left At Roadside

The body of a British backpacker who died after taking a hallucinogenic drug during a tribal ritual was abandoned on a roadside by two local men, authorities in Colombia have said.

Henry Miller, 19, from Bristol, was in a remote rainforest area, near the town of Mocoa, with other tourists when he drank yage, with a local tribe.

The psychedelic brew, also known as ayahuasca, can bring on vivid hallucinations and is used by native people in South America for healing and spiritual purposes.

Mr Miller took the drug on Sunday last week without any effects.

He took it again on Tuesday, and was found dead the following day by the side of a rural road outside Mocoa, the capital of the Putumayo region.

Putumayo police commander Ricardo Suarez said Mr Miller drank the brew during a ritual led by a shaman.

After Mr Miller's health deteriorated, the shaman sent him to a hospital on a motorbike with two young local men, but he died en route, Mr Suarez said.

"Everything indicates that the two young men panicked and left him on the side of the road," Mr Suarez said.

He added that investigators have identified and questioned the two men and the shaman but they have not yet been arrested for any crime.

Colombian medical authorities said the cause of the death has not been definitely established.

Mr Miller's parents Elizabeth and David, and brother Freddie, said he had reacted to the plant infusion after the hostel he was staying at recommended he drink it.

In a statement to the Bristol Post, David Miller said: "The ritual involves a drink made from local plant infusions. We are awaiting further information from the Foreign Office but it is likely that a reaction to this drink was the cause."

He added: "Henry was an adventurous person who travelled extensively. He was polite, popular with a great sense of humour and was very much loved by his family and his many friends.

"We hope we can all be given the time and space to come to terms with what has happened and to grieve for our son and brother."

Filip Goematre, owner of Casa del Rio hostel, where Mr Miller was staying, told Sky News on Saturday: "Lots of people come to this area to take the yage drug, which is part of an indigenous ritual.

"But I am not a fan of it. I prefer people come here to enjoy the Amazon and look at the animals and nature.

"Henry came here last week and heard about the drug from other tourists and got motivated to do it."

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