Detained teen who died had heart disease, drug intoxication

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS - The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — A teenager found dead last year in an Ohio juvenile detention center had heart disease and also “amphetamine intoxication” at the time of his death, according to a report released Thursday.

Robert Wright, 17, was found dead on Aug. 31 by a guard who entered his cell at Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility in central Ohio to tell him it was time to take his morning medication, said the report by the Ohio State Highway patrol that includes coroner’s findings.

Two nurses tried to revive him, the report said.

Wright had complained to his mother in an Aug. 18 phone call he wasn’t feeling well, and other youths had said “Wright complained of having periodic chest pains, headaches and also trouble breathing at times,” the report said.

A test of water in the toilet in the teen’s cell found traces of the party drug MDMA, but it couldn’t be determined if Wright had taken it, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. Wright was on medication, but what kind was blacked out in the report.

A deputy coroner concluded that the amphetamine level in Wright’s system was “very low but could not be ruled out as a contributing factor due to Mr. Wright’s heart abnormalities.”

Wright was serving a juvenile sentence for sexual battery out of Hamilton County. The Department of Youth Services is finishing its own investigation and won’t comment until that’s done, agency spokesperson Jill Craig said.

The facility houses just more than 100 young men.

The state public defender’s office has criticized the youth services agency, saying incarcerated children are supposed to receive treatment, education, proper medical care and adequate supervision.

“Their time there is supposed to be an opportunity for them to be equipped with the tools to re-enter the community successfully,” the agency said last month. “That did not happen here.”


The Associated Press

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