Police blame drugs in death of Lewiston teenager

A Lewiston Police vehicle is parked in the middle of Bartlett Street in Lewiston on Friday morning in the area where 19-year-old Andrew Jackson reportedly died as a result of drug use.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
A Lewiston Police vehicle is parked in the middle of Bartlett Street in Lewiston on Friday morning in the area where 19-year-old Andrew Jackson reportedly died as a result of drug use.
Posted Sept. 24, 2011, at 12:49 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 24, 2011, at 7:49 p.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — Hallucinogenic mushrooms appear to have caused the death of a local teenager known for enthusiastic support of Lewiston High School sports teams.

Police said Andrew Jackson, 19, went into cardiac arrest and died at a hospital after he was found acting strange early Friday morning on Bartlett Street.

A man associated with Jackson also was hospitalized, police said.

It began at about 2 a.m. when police responded to a 911 call about a man lying on a car on Bartlett Street. Jackson, found on the street, was combative and disoriented, police said.

He was restrained and taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center for emergency treatment. He died there a short time later, police said.

The cause of his death was under investigation, police said.

The Maine office of the chief medical examiner is expected to perform tests to determine the cause and manner of his death and which drugs were involved.

At about the same time, police responded to reports of a man lying in a locked car with its headlights on at 89 Birch St. That man also was under the influence of drugs, police said. He was taken to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center for detoxification.

His condition was not known Friday night. Those familiar with Jackson said he had been with the other man earlier in the night. Police said both seemed to have had bad reactions to drugs.

“The information we’re getting … is that both of these guys were acting very bizarre and that they were affiliated with each other,” Chief Michael Bussiere said. “At some point, they got separated.”

Police said hallucinogenic mushrooms may have been one of the drugs involved in the two cases, possibly laced with other substances, and warned the public to avoid street drugs.

“Our concern right now is that there are drugs on the street that can cause substantial impairment, and potentially, can be fatal,” Bussiere said.

“It’s not uncommon for drugs like mushrooms to have other drugs added to them, like PCP,” the chief said. “Potentially, you could add bath salts. We don’t know if that’s the case in this particular instance. But, what the officers are telling me is that the behavior they witnessed and what the paramedics saw and the people at the hospital saw is indicative of more than just what the normal effects of mushrooms are.”

Jackson’s friends, family and former classmates were left stunned by the death Friday. Several posted their thoughts on Jackson’s Facebook page. Others posted videos. A memorial service is planned for Sept. 30.

Jackson was a member of a group of self-described “Super Fans” at Lewiston High School. The group, and Jackson in particular, cheered so ardently for the local teams, it occasionally got him kicked out.

“He was so funny,” said Cathi Tilleman Gonzalez, the mother of a Lewiston High School student. “He was just the biggest fan of every team. He went to every game in every sport. Everybody loved him.”

Jackson continued to cheer even after graduating and his absence at the Lewiston High football game Friday night was noted. Fans and players offered a moment of silence in Jackson’s memory.

“With the tragedy of one of our good friends, he was close to me, and to a lot of us and a lot of people in the stands,” Lewiston senior running back Joe McKinnon said. “We had a lot of people who wanted to show up for him tonight.”

“It was a very tough day,” Lewiston coach Bill County said. “We lost one of our ball players last night, a kid who means a lot to us. The kids were pretty shaken up in school today, and I really respect the fact that these kids came together, and used that as motivation. I think they thought of Andrew a lot tonight. He meant a lot to this program. He was a kid who was always screaming and yelling and enthusiastic. I told the kids at halftime, you can’t dedicate a game to a kid and then screw it up. I think overcoming adversity was where we were today.”

Jackson was also favored by those involved in local theater or music. In 2010, Jackson and his friends wrote music and lyrics for a song, “Savor the Moment,” they had hoped to perform at graduation. Though that never happened, their performance was recorded. By Friday night, it was making the rounds on Facebook.

“He could sing really well,” Gonzalez said. “He was just a real nice guy.”

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