Parents concerned after Jefferson County freshman hospitalized from potential drug use at school

A Seckman High School freshman hit a weed vape pen in school Monday, had a seizure and is now in the hospital.
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JEFFERSON COUNTY (KMOV) - An area teenager is on the road to recovery tonight after her mother said she had taken drugs at a Jefferson County school. It’s an incident that spurred riled up parents to call News 4 asking questions. News 4 talked with the mother of that student, who’s now in the hospital after having a seizure, brain bleed and brain surgery. After three days on life support, she finally got off Thursday afternoon.

“She had had some sort of seizure episode at school and had a brain bleed,” Ashley Riegel said.

Riegel’s daughter, Ava, is a freshman at Seckman High School in Imperial. This isn’t the first time she’s had a seizure at school. Riegel said she had her first episode in January, then February, and again on Monday. She said after Ava was hospitalized, friends started reaching out telling Riegel what was going on behind the scenes.

“[She was] going in the bathroom and these girls were having these cartridges, and they said every time she would hit one of these vapes, she would have a seizure and fall,” Riegel said.

Thursday afternoon, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies found what they believe to be weed vape cartridges at Seckman High School during a routine drug dog search. Riegel said she’s heard from students those cartridges, also known as carts, are being laced with fentanyl and Adderall.

“We can’t definitively say that the items do or do not have these other illicit substances beyond what they’re labeled to be as THC,” Grant Bissell said.

Bissell is with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. He said the department doesn’t have the ability to test carts and said they typically send them off to Missouri State Highway Patrol’s crime lab. However, Bissell said there’s no guarantee the carts will be tested.

“The Highway Patrol’s crime lab is inundated with evidence from all across the state. They have just gotten to the point where they’ve had no other choice but to say ‘we can’t accept everything’,” Bissell said.

The sheriff’s office and Fox C-6 School District said they’ve seen an increase of these carts at Seckman High this past year. It’s riled parents and stirred rumors on social media this week after hearing about Ava.

“Parents weren’t aware this was even a thing. A lot of parents are scared,” Brittney Hewkin said.

Hewkin has a sophomore at Seckman. She said she started posting on social media so other parents were aware of what’s going on. She also said she wished the school would be more proactive and responsive to issues like this.

Seckman High leaders did send out a memo to parents Thursday night. The letter details what vape pens are, the different types, and that the school is working to learn more about these devices and substances.

“Somebody is going to end up dying from one of these cartridges, and then what’s the school going to think then,” Riegel said.