File photo: Denise Civiletti

None of the three incidents involving students falling ill at Riverhead High School in recent days is believed to be related to opioids or fentanyl, Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller told RiverheadLOCAL this morning.

“Right now, we have no evidence that opioids or fentanyl were involved in any of the incidents,” Hegermiller said.

The investigations remain open and ongoing, he said.

The students who passed out at the high school on Feb. 4 and 10 were administered Narcan by a school nurse as part of a standard protocol in treating an unconscious person, the chief said.

“The administration of Narcan does not mean an opioid was the reason for a person becoming unconscious,” he said. “Years ago, they would have used smelling salts,” he noted, but with the prevalence of opioid use and the rise in overdoses, Narcan administration is the current standard.

On Feb. 4, a student used a vape pen prior to becoming unconscious.

Hegermiller said today that other students had used the same vape pen with the student who passed out and no one else passed out or became ill.

On Feb. 10, a student who passed out denied vaping or using any illegal drug. The student reported he had been feeling ill for the last few weeks.

On Feb. 14, a student experienced difficulty breathing after eating a THC chocolate candy. The student stated he was given a THC chocolate candy bar from an unidentified person in the Flanders area, police said in a press release Tuesday. Once at school, the student ate approximately half of the THC chocolate. This student did not pass out and was not administered Narcan.

All three students were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center by Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Police did not obtain for testing either the vape pen used on Feb. 4 or the uneaten half of the THC chocolate candy bar, Hegermiller said.

Riverhead Police issued a press release Tuesday describing the incidents and urging parents to speak with their children about the dangers of drug use and to seek help if needed.

Police urge anyone with information related to the investigation of these incidents to call the Riverhead Police Department at 631-747-4500 ext. 312, or the Riverhead Police Department Crime Hotline at 631-727-3333. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.

School district plans student assembly and community training

In an email to high school parents Monday afternoon, Riverhead High School Principal Sean O’Hara assured families that the high school administration has been working “to develop strategies to assist our students in making the most sound choices for themselves.”

The district has been working with local law enforcement and is working to take “several proactive steps to address the topic directly,” O’Hara wrote.

The district is planning a virtual assembly for students about the dangers of alcohol and drug use and we will offer training opportunities for administrators and any interested staff members, O’Hara wrote.

“Additionally, as partners in education, we will be hosting a community event in the near future to extend Narcan/drug and alcohol awareness training to residents, families and community,” the principal said.

He urged families in need of assistance to reach out to school psychologists, social workers and counselors.

“Please know that a large part of our focus with our students and staff will be to bring a heightened sense of understanding of these important topics. We ask for your continued participation in these conversations and hope you will join us during the upcoming community programs,” O’Hara wrote.


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