COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The death of a fraternity pledge at Texas A&M earlier this year has been ruled an accident attributed to the toxic effects of Adderall, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.
Joseph Little, 18, died Aug. 28 – two days after suffering a seizure at his Calloway House apartment and being rushed to a hospital. The freshman had been accepted to Phi Gamma Delta fraternity just before his death.
According to the autopsy report, Little’s blood taken when he was admitted to the hospital tested positive for cannabinoids and amphetamine.
An investigation revealed that Little had been up the night before he began seizing as part of a rush event, according to the report. He had snorted Adderall -- an amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- before standing outside next to a statue on campus for nearly four hours in a suit and tie. Temperatures ranged from 77 to 91 degrees.
According to the report, when Little returned to his apartment later that day, he complained of being tired and began having seizures. Little seized for nearly a half-hour. His temperature climbed as high as 104 degrees and his blood pressure went as high as 204/179.
"It's not like marijuana is a downer. It alters your perception,” said Dr. Spencer Green, the director of medical toxicology and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "Adderall is used as a stimulant. It's prescribed for ADHD but it's used for a lot of other things and it's used recreationally. It's like caffeine on steroids or caffeine light. But too much of it would be like cocaine or other amphetamines."
Little’s cause of death was listed as strokes due to seizures due to toxic effects of amphetamine.
The fraternity was suspended after a university review determined rules related to hazing and alcohol had been violated.
"The big question is: Who is responsible?” said attorney Warren Diepraam.
The veteran prosecutor is not involved in the case, but he did say charges or a civil suit could come next.
"Depending on what investigators find, anyone could be held responsible. Including the fraternity itself. Texas law allows for organizations to be held liable," Diepraam said.
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