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Sheriff's Office investigating Palm Harbor student's drug overdose death

PALM HARBOR — The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is investigating whoever may have supplied the prescription drugs that killed a 17-year-old Palm Harbor University High School student in May.

On Thursday, authorities officially released the cause of Landon Korabek's death and said an investigation into his death is ongoing.

Landon died May 7 of an accidental overdose of the prescription painkiller hydrocodone, according to a toxicology report released by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office. Alprazolam, known as Xanax, also contributed to his death.

Landon, an 11th-grader, was one of two Palm Harbor University High students to die in a three-month span earlier this year. The first was Tyler Dobies, 15, who died Feb. 21 of an accidental overdose of Xanax and oxycodone.

Less than two weeks after Landon died, the former Palm Harbor University High principal Herman "Doc" Allen called a campus meeting to combat drug abuse. He called it a "war" to save the children. About 200 people showed up.

At that time, authorities had not released official causes of Tyler's death, either. But speculation was high that both boys died of overdoses. And parents were alarmed.

By mid June, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Children unit had begun an investigation into the person or people who may have provided the drugs that killed Landon, according to a medical examiner's investigation report. And Thursday, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda confirmed the case is still open.

Landon's mother, Susan Korabek, said she didn't want to comment about her son or the circumstances surrounding his death.

According to various memorials, Landon, who was born in Clearwater, loved to play the guitar. He ripped up the quarter-pipe skateboard ramp. And he like to surf at Cocoa Beach.

For a number of years, he played football for the Palm Harbor Panthers Pop Warner Football League.

His parents told authorities he was healthy and did not seem depressed. But they did have concerns.

According to the medical examiner's office report:

His grades were dropping and his friends were changing, and they suspected that he smoked pot. They gave him spot drug tests. The last one on May 2, came back inconclusive.

Landon went to a party May 6. He returned to his Palm Harbor home about midnight and did not seem intoxicated. He didn't have school the next day, a Friday, so his mom let him sleep in.

At noon, she went into his room to check on him. She found him sitting on his futon, unresponsive.

His father performed CPR. A neighbor, an off-duty firefighter, took over until emergency crews arrived.

Landon was transported to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before 2 p.m. that day.

Friends and family members are still sharing fond memories about Landon on a Facebook tribute page. They're also talking about how much they miss him.

"Walking home from school made me want to turn and walk down your street to see if you were home," a friend wrote earlier this week. "Somehow, somewhere we will meet again and we will have to play catch up for a while."

As of Thursday afternoon, his page had 888 members.

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

Sheriff's Office investigating Palm Harbor student's drug overdose death 11/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 8:13pm]
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