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A self-professed psychic tried to “hold the calm and the beauty” as a man collapsed before dying after taking poison and hallucinogens at a spiritual health retreat.

Jarrad Antonovich died of a perforated oesophagus after consuming the plant-based psychedelic ayahuasca and frog-based poison kambo at the Dreaming Arts Festival at Arcoora health retreat in northern NSW on October 16, 2021.

As an inquest into his death resumed on Thursday, psychic reader and “body worker” Dominique Vollaers said she was seated when she turned around to see the 46-year-old falling to the ground during the ritual.

Hearing a flurry of activity from the back of the hall, she said she remained as the only one sitting in the room while others were escorted out.

“I truly felt, with full honour to the family, that he left his body straight away,” she told State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan.

“So for me, I was holding the calm and the beauty and just being with Jarrad leaving.”

CPR was attempted and an ambulance called, but paramedics pronounced the Victorian man dead on the scene.

After participating in a kambo ceremony earlier that morning, Mr Antonovich’s neck swelled up and he complained of back pain.

Typically, the chemical substance is scraped off the back of a live frog with a stick.

Those ingesting the drug normally purge themselves afterwards by vomiting.

Ms Vollaers said she was acting as a carer during the kambo ceremony, working with the energy of those participating and “grounding them”.

She told the Byron Bay courtroom she stayed with Mr Antonovich after growing concerned that he hadn’t thrown up.

The 46-year-old disclosed to her that he was an asthmatic, but he hadn’t told anyone organising the ceremony about his health condition, the inquest heard.

“I was disturbed that no one knew that he had that or he had not shared that he had that,” Ms Vollaers said.

After someone fetched his Ventolin puffer, Mr Antonovich’s condition remained unchanged, leading to the psychic asking if he wanted to go to hospital.

He grew angry and Ms Vollaers made the same request to an Indigenous elder standing nearby, Uncle Andrew Johnston.

This proposal was rejected, she told the court.

“Uncle AJ turned around and said, ‘no hospital’,” she said.

Ms Vollaers said she deferred to the elder, wrongly assuming Mr Antonovich was also Indigenous.

“I’m just this white girl here, they know more than me,” she said.

Ms Vollaers trusted Uncle AJ because she worked with energy and “feeling what’s going underneath things”, and felt he was part of that world as well.

She admitted she did not know the extent of the elder’s knowledge of medicine or kambo.

Mr Johnston previously told the inquest he personally supported the use of ayahuasca and kambo at ceremonies as they were based on the traditional knowledge of the South American people spanning thousands of years.

When asked whether she was misguided in her faith in Lore Solaris, the owner of the Dreaming Arts Festival, Ms Vollaers said it was a hard question to answer.

“I feel what happened with Jarrad is a rare case and that happens everywhere with everything,” she said.

The hearing continues.

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