Methadone overdose blamed for teen deaths
October 23, 2006
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. (AP) ” Two Douglas County teenagers whose bodies were found July 22 at Lake Tahoe died of acute methadone intoxication, sheriff’s deputies said Monday.
The Washoe County Coroner’s Office made the finding in the deaths of Timothy Coleman of Gardnerville and Alex Haas of Minden, both 19.
Coleman’s body was found at the water’s edge near the Zephyr Cove Resort on the lake’s southeast shore. Haas’ body was found in the lake about 30 feet from shore in the same area.
Haas died from a combination of a methadone overdose and drowning, while Coleman died from just methadone intoxication, deputies said.
There were no signs of foul play, and authorities had speculated the two were victims of lightning. A severe thunderstorm rolled through the area the same day Coleman and Haas went to the beach.
Methadone is a synthetic opiate used to treat narcotic addiction or chronic pain, and is available by prescription only.
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Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Mezzetta said deaths from the accidental overdose of methadone have increased significantly nationwide.
Most people who die from complications associated with methadone overdoses are recreational users instead of prescription users.
That’s because the effect of methadone on a person not used to it are far greater than on a prescription user closely monitored by a physician, Mezzetta said.
Coleman and Haas “were recreational users and neither had a prescription for it,” Mezzetta told The Associated Press. “It’s a deadly game and it’s not to be messed with. A simple dose could kill someone.”