Teen’s drug death ‘warning to others’

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The father of a teenager who died after a three day drugs’ binge believes his son’s death may save others from similar tragedy.

Limavady teenager Ryan Lee McElwee - known as ‘Snig’ to his friends - was 17 years-old when he died as a result of taking a cocktail of legal and illegal substances including ecstasy, mephadrone, tamazapam and piperazines BZP and TFMPP on October 23, 2010.

An inquest into his death heard yesterday that the teenager had a history of drug use and had become “disengaged” following his last referral to an addiction support centre in June 2010.

Following the inquest, his father John Duffy said the death of his son, who started smoking cannabis at just 12 years-old, had already had a positive effect locally in terms of the education of young people on the dangers of drug abuse.

“There is a fair bit of good that has come out of it and if you save someone it’s always a big achievement,” he said.

Mr Duffy said the loss of his son had left the entire family “very empty”, adding that he was a very bubbly and respectful young man.

However, his father said he got “mixed up” with an older crowd, which led to increased drug abuse. He said his son took drug taking to an “advanced stage, as if he wanted to prove something”.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson found that Mr McElwee died due to mixed drug toxicity. She urged other drug users to take note of the tragedy.

“Ryan’s tragic death should serve as a warning to other users. When it comes to drugs there is no safe level of use.”

Mr McElwee was at a house in Glenbeg Walk, Limavady, which was being rented by another man, when he fell unconscious. It was noted that he became agitated and appeared to be gasping for breath. Around 30 minutes later it was noted that his skin had become yellow in colour and that he was unresponsive.

Up for three days

His cousin Dionne Davis, who was in the house where Ryan fell unconscious, said: “He was off his head . . . he was staring and gazing about. He told me he’d been up for three days taking ecstasy, fairy dust, mephadrone, uppers, downers, dope, everything.”

She said Ryan then began “smacking out” while lying on the sofa and stretching out his arms and legs.

“He was twitching and bouncing on the sofa.”

Ms Davis said she tried to sit him up and give him water but “he was too far gone”.

When he “turned a yellow colour” about 30 minutes later, she checked for a pulse but could not find one and began administering mouth to mouth resuscitation.

“He didn’t even gasp,” she said.

An ambulance was called when another two friends of Mr McElwee, Ryan Mullan and Thomas Sheppard, were alerted by Ms Davis.

However, despite prolonged attempts at resuscitation by his friends and later ambulance staff, the teenager failed to respond.