Westport High students sickened by e-cigarette; two hospitalized, father arrested

Posted 9/20/19

Several students were sickened, two seriously enough to require an ambulance trip to the hospital after ingesting an e-cigarette laced with THC (the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana), and …

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Westport High students sickened by e-cigarette; two hospitalized, father arrested


Several students were sickened, two seriously enough to require an ambulance trip to the hospital after ingesting an e-cigarette laced with THC (the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana, and nicotine at Westport Middle-High School Friday morning.

The father of one of the boys was arrested after police said he assaulted his son at the school.

Members of the Westport Police and Fire Departments were called to the Westport High School regarding an intoxicated student at around 8:30 a.m.. Westport High School staff relayed that the student was displaying signs of being under the influence and showing extremely erratic behavior.

While being evaluated by medical personnel the student continued to display erratic and violent behavior to the extent he had to be restrained for his safety and the safety of first responders, said Westport Detective Sergeant Christopher Dunn.

An investigation by high school administration and school Resource Officer Kyle Fernandes revealed that several students had ingested an e-cigarette pen which contained a mixture of THC and nicotine. Two of the students were transported to the hospital. All other students suspected to be involved with the ingestion of the e-cigarette were evaluated by the school nurse and Westport Fire Department paramedics.

“Upon learning of the incident, a father of one of the students arrived at Westport High School while his son was displaying erratic behavior and signs of intoxication,” Sgt. Dunn said. “The father subsequently assaulted his son and was placed under arrest on a charge of assault and battery on a household member. He was processed at the Westport Police Station and later transported to the Fall River Justice Center for arraignment.”

The Westport Public Schools and the Westport Police Department work together to educate and conduct investigations into people/businesses that sell nicotine products to underage people, the sergeant said. During the 2018-2019 school year, information was relayed from school personnel to School Resource Officer Kyle Fernandes regarding the sale of nicotine containing products. This lead to an investigation into Cedars Smoke Shop located at 35 State Road in Westport which resulted in a 60-day loss of license.

“Members of the Westport High School staff and administration should be credited with their quick response in making sure all students remained safe and received the proper medical treatment,” Sgt. Dunn said.

One resident who was listening to the police scanner said that there was an initial call to police from the school regarding a disruptive student. That, he said, was quickly followed by a call for all available police officers and then for ambulances.

Westport Police issued this statement on the dangers of e-cigarettes:

“E-cigarettes are devices used to heat a liquid into an aerosol which the user inhales The liquid usually contains flavored nicotine and other additives. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive. Additionally, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

• ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs

• flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease

• volatile organic compounds

• heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.

Police also said: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping” or “JUULing.” Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine. These substances are what is suspected to have led to the erratic and assaultive behavior of the juvenile today. Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. All JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine, according to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. News outlets and social media sites report widespread use of JUUL by students in schools, including classrooms and bathrooms.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.