Coroner: Damonte H.S. students died from accidental drug overdoses

Published: Feb. 4, 2020 at 10:25 AM PST
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The Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that two Damonte High School students who passed away recently, died of accidental drug overdoses.

Daniel Davis, 17, died on January 29, 2020. His cause of death was acute fentanyl and MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine) intoxication.

Jacob Eckart, 18, died on February 3, 2020. His cause of death was acute fentanyl intoxication.

According to the coroner, each of the young men may have thought that they were abusing prescription pain pills.

The Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner's Office released the following information on the drugs:

MDA is a stimulant drug with similar structure to MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as Ecstasy). MDA can be used directly or be present as a breakdown product of MDMA. Both drugs are psychotropic amphetamine derivatives, act as a central nervous system stimulant and can be hallucinogenic in large doses. These drugs are illegally manufactured and obtained. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic narcotic pain medication with a short duration of action and high potency, 100 times the potency of morphine. Fentanyl is a prescription medication given for severe pain, but also can be illicitly manufactured and distributed for abuse. Mixture of fentanyl with other illicit drugs including heroin is commonly being seen in our community. Alarmingly, fentanyl may be present in pressed pills that are being illegally manufactured and sold as other less-potent opioid medications like Oxycontin (oxycodone) or Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen). Fentanyl’s presence in street drugs greatly increases the risk of overdose and death, even in those tolerant to other less powerful opioids.

Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam urged parents to have a serious conversation with their children about drug use following the deaths.

In a statement, Sheriff Balaam said, "As a community, we must ensure that our children understand the horrendous potential for tragedy which may result from experimenting with drugs, even when the drugs come from someone a child knows.”

“This is a life-or-death message,” Sheriff Balaam added. “We absolutely must take responsibility for trying to prevent any future tragedies by talking with our children, impressing upon them the dangers associated with drugs, and the crucial importance of making the choice to leave drugs alone.”

The sheriff's office urged anyone looking for more information about drug abuse and prevention to visit


The Washoe County School District also released the following statement Tuesday:

“The Washoe County School District provided information to the Damonte Ranch High School family as quickly as possible following the deaths of the students in the past week. In the Connect Ed call and email that was circulated to parents yesterday, the District provided numerous links to resources in the District and across the community, encouraging families to contact the school, the District, or these community resources for help and information. “The District must respect the privacy of two families who are grieving the loss of their children, as well as those students’ circle of friends and their wider circle of peers at the school. We are also following federal privacy laws designed to protect the privacy of our families and students. “We continue to encourage our students and families to contact the Damonte Ranch High School counseling staff or resources in the community for help and support during this difficult time. Thank you.”

The Washoe County School District shared a letter to parents Monday, February 3, 2020 regarding the deaths:

Dear Damonte Ranch Families, This is your principal, Mr. Bell. It is with great sadness that we inform you of the loss of two of our Senior students who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly this past week. We are deeply saddened by the losses in our school community, and will make every effort to help you and your child as needed. This loss may raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our school, especially our students. Administrators and Teachers are supporting our students in classes, as well as, School Counselors, Psychologists, Social workers, and other Mental Health Professionals, from the District, providing support at this time. Please feel free to contact the counseling office at 851-5656 for resources that will be helpful for your child at home. Washoe County School Crisis Intervention Team is helping with the immediate needs of our students. We also encourage you as parents to please use our resources if you have questions or in need of additional support. The email Connect Ed will list available resources and contact information. We are heartbroken over the loss of our two Mustangs.

The district provided these resources to families:

: 1-800-273-8255

: 775-324-7723

Mobile Crisis Response Team: 775-688-1670

Washoe County School District Counseling

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