Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Medical examiner confirms Palm Harbor teen's death was prescription drug overdose

PALM HARBOR — A medical examiner's report released Friday confirmed what many in the community had suspected.

Palm Harbor University High student Tyler Joseph Dobies, 15, died Feb. 21 of an accidental overdose of oxycodone and alprazolam, or Xanax, the report says.

Many in the community had linked Tyler's death and the death of another Palm Harbor University High student this year to overdoses of prescriptions drugs.

The other teen, a junior, 17, died in May, but the medical examiner's office does not expect to release that report until August.

Community members feared prescription drug use was far more widespread. Last month, Palm Harbor University High principal Herman Allen was so concerned that he held a campus meeting, a "Community Call to Action." About 200 parents, students and educators attended.

Heidi Wincek, whose daughter was a freshman at the school this year, says her daughter is not into drugs, but she's worried about others. She's heard that some students put pills on classroom window sills so that others in the next class can pick them up, she said.

"I guess kids are going to continue," said Wincek, 46. "Maybe, after a while, when parents feel strong enough, something good can come out of these tragedies."

In 2008, 15.7 percent of Pinellas County high school students reported using prescription pain relievers at least once in their lives, according to the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey.

Last year, 402 accidental drug-related deaths occurred in Pinellas and Pasco counties, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office. Of those, 305 were attributed to prescription drugs. More than half involved people 36 to 55 years old, records show. Last year, three deaths of boys 15 to 17 years old involved prescription drugs.

Tyler Dobies' parents couldn't be reached Friday.

Tyler, who was born in Dunedin, was on the school hockey team and the Pinellas Sheriff's Police Athletic League hockey team. A Facebook page was set up to honor his memory.

"I choose happy," one friend wrote. "I choose to remember the good times and celebrate your life. I hope others do the same in your spirit, you would not want us to be sad, you'd want us to play hockey, celebrate, and rock out with our iPods loud! This we will do … for you!"

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Medical examiner confirms Palm Harbor teen's death was prescription drug overdose 06/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 11, 2010 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.