Two teens found dead with empty can of Four Loko died of accidental drug overdose, coroner rules
Two teenagers whose bodies were found Jan. 21 in a Huntington Beach apartment died of accidental overdoses, the Orange County sheriff-coroner has declared.
Aaron Saenz, 15, of Westminster and Chelsea Taylor, 16, of Huntington Beach both had methadone, alprazolam and hydroxyalprazolam in their systems. Doxylamine was also identified in Aaron's autopsy and ethanol in Chelsea's, according to the report.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information identifies methadone as a pain-relief analgesic, alprazolam as a medication designed to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder, and doxylamine as a treatment for insomnia and cold symptoms.
Ethanol is the intoxicating agent in alcohol.
The teens were found in a vacant apartment at Via Verde, a 277-unit complex at 15555 Huntington Village Lane. Their deaths attracted media attention after police found an empty can of the controversial energy drink Four Loko in the apartment.
Four Loko has been banned in some states by lawmakers concerned about the energy drink that combines caffeine and alcohol.
Known as "blackout in a can," Four Loko is a fruity drink that contains 6% to 12% alcohol. The beverage, sold in a 23.5-ounce container, is equivalent to drinking about four beers plus a strong cup of coffee, health experts say.
In November, the company began reformulating its caffeinated alcoholic beverages, including Four Loko, to remove caffeine, guarana or taurine and to stop distribution of the original formulas. The company said that decision came in advance of a warning issued by the federal Food and Drug Administration requesting that the firm stop selling caffeinated malt alcoholic beverages because the caffeine constituted an unsafe food additive.
-- Michael Miller, Huntington Beach Independent / Times Community News
Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press