2 Greenbrier teens dead after possibly drinking racing fuel

From L to R: Logan Stephenson and J.D. Byram (Courtesy: Stephenson and Byram families)
From L to R: Logan Stephenson and J.D. Byram (Courtesy: Stephenson and Byram families)

GREENBRIER, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two teenagers have died after the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office said they became ill from an incident last week involving the teens ingesting a substance determined to be racing fuel.

Both boys, Logan Stephenson and J.D. Byram, were students at Greenbrier High School. They were reportedly among a group of teenagers in Greenbrier last Wednesday when the incident happened.

Stephenson, 16, was found unresponsive inside his home the next morning and pronounced dead at the scene. He is survived by his parents, grandparents and six brothers and sisters.

Byram was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in critical condition where he died Monday night.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we have learned that a second young man has died from the incident last week,” said Sheriff Bill Holt. “We ask that everyone continue to pray for both of these families as they go through this tragic time.”

A vigil was held Tuesday night at Greenbrier High for the students. Dozens of students, family members and friends were in attendance.

The Director of Schools in Robertson County, Mike Davis, released the following statement:

On behalf of Robertson County Schools, I want to express our sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the parents and families of two Robertson County Schools students who tragically lost their lives recently. Both were members of our Greenbrier High School student body. Our hearts go out to the families of each of these young men for their loss.

The Greenbrier police chief told News 2 Tuesday that investigators received information from friends of the teens that several had been drinking Mountain Dew mixed with racing fuel.

Two other Greenbrier High School students were taken to the emergency room after they reportedly told investigators they drank racing fuel. They were released and deemed OK.

The police chief also told News 2 Stephenson and Byram possibly drank the same mixture and it may have caused their deaths, but the connection won’t be confirmed until autopsy results are completed.

Authorities are also still awaiting toxicology results. The investigation continues into both boys’ deaths.

The sheriff’s office is also asking people to refrain from posting or spreading rumors regarding the circumstances as they are “deeply disturbing and harmful to the families that are already going through a tragic time of loss.”

Police said if you know someone who may have consumed a similar mixture to seek medical attention at once.

Authorities are also asking anyone with information about the incident to come forward and call the Greenbrier Police Department at 615-643-4467.

“You will not be in trouble with law enforcement if you were present at this gathering,” police said. “Our goal is to ensure the safety of our citizens and get medical help for those who may need it.”

Racing fuel is used for any kind of vehicle related to racing and can be bought at some gas stations.

“We have certainly seen methanol infections, but nothing like this. I mean, this was a product that was almost 100 percent methanol, which is quite unusual,” said Dr. Donna Seger, the Director of the Tennessee Poison Center.

She told News 2 she thinks it’s something that may be going more than people realize.

“I think it’s very sad because I am sure that they had no idea how toxic what they were ingesting was,” said Dr. Seger.

She told News 2 the symptoms depend on how much is consumed and can include anything from something minor like nausea to even death.

“It also impacts the vision and permanent blindness can occur. One can feel inebriated like one does after drinking alcohol. It can also make you sleepy or even go all the way to coma where you are unconscious with high levels of seizures,” said Dr. Seger.

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