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Deputies: Ecstacy overdose killed teen

Eric Przybyszewski, 17, didn't wake up from a night of taking Ecstasy with his friends, authorities say.

Jenny Przybyszewski's tears Saturday were a mixture of sorrow and frustration.

She says she knew that if her 17-year-old older brother, Eric, didn't stop using drugs, he was going to die.

Her family's struggle to help Eric stop his drug use ended Saturday morning when the Ridgewood High School senior was found dead in a friend's bathtub after a night of taking Ecstasy with five other teens, Pasco County sheriff's deputies said.

"I knew he was dead two years ago," 15-year-old Jenny said. "And now I miss him."

Deputies attributed Przybyszewski's death to a overdose of Ecstasy, the common name for the increasingly popular drug MDMA. The drug, which is usually taken as a tablet or pill, creates a highly pleasurable feeling but can have serious side effects, such as hyperthermia, heart attacks and seizures, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The six teens were taking the drug as a group Friday night, said sheriff's Lt. J.P. Jackson, and Przybyszewski took the most. At 7:45 a.m. Saturday, inside the house at 7252 Dianne Drive, where they spent the night, Przybyszewski's friends discovered he was not breathing.

Pam Campana, who rents the house where Przybyszewski died and is the mother of 18-year-old Jayna Sawyer, said she was awakened by the commotion of kids at 2 a.m. She realized her daughter had friends over and told Sawyer to send them home. A mother-daughter squabble ensued, Campana said, and Sawyer left with her friends.

The front door rattles the windows in her room when it shuts, Campana said, and at 5:30 a.m. she was awakened again. This time she said she found the teens helping a muddy Przybyszewski into the house.

She said she asked whether they had been drinking and one of the kids said yes.

At 6 a.m. Campana said she saw Przybyszewski alone in the bathtub, stripped to his boxer shorts and wrapped in towels. After the boys had showered him by pouring cups of water over his head, he had told them he wanted to stay in the tub.

He was breathing, Campana said.

About 7:45 a.m. Campana's daughter woke her. There was something wrong with Eric Przybyszewski, Jayna Sawyer told her mother. His pupils were dilated and had rolled back in his head.

Campana said she started performing CPR on Przybyszewski and her daughter called 911. When she didn't smell alcohol, Campana said she knew it was drugs.

"You expect marijuana, you expect drinking, you don't expect this," said Campana, who expressed repeated "what-if" scenarios Saturday evening might have saved her daughter's friend.

Campana said she didn't stop performing CPR until paramedics arrived.

Przybyszewski was pronounced dead at the scene, Jackson and dispatchers said. His body, covered in a maroon sheet, was taken from the house shortly before 1 p.m. by the county Medical Examiner's Office. An autopsy will be conducted, Jackson said.

Przybyszewski's sister and his friends, who gathered on the front porch of the boy's 6917 Bramblewood Drive house Saturday afternoon, said their friend, who worked after school at McDonald's, wasn't a bad kid.

"He just screwed up," said Jenny Przybyszewski, who added that her brother sought treatment about a year ago at Harbor Behavioral Health Care Institute. "He got peer pressured."

Deputies wrapped the one-story, white concrete block house where Przybyszewski died in yellow crime tape Saturday morning as their investigation continued.

"We're going to see what led up to this death," Jackson said. "Whoever contributed to his death can be held accountable."

The partying group of teenagers consisted of Przybyszewski, three 16-year-old boys, a 17-year-old girl and 18-year-old Sawyer, Jackson said.

None of the other teens received medical treatment, Jackson said.

Deputies did not know Saturday where the teens obtained the drugs and when or where they took them, Jackson said.

"We're looking into who sold it to them and any other criminal aspects," Jackson said.

Taking Ecstasy is known as "rolling" and it produces both stimulant and psychedelic effects for about three to six hours, according to the NIDA. It causes the brain to release extremely high levels of chemicals, including serotonin, which helps regulate emotion.

"It makes you feel very, very empathetic with people _ very close," said spokeswoman Sheryl Massaro of the NIDA. "It's a delightful feeling. There's nothing wrong with the world."

The stimulant effects of the drug allow those who take it to stay alert, making it a popular drug at all-night dance clubs, commonly known as raves. But use of Ecstasy has begun to spread to other social settings, such as schools, Massaro said.

The NIDA found in a 1999 study that 8 percent of high school seniors had tried the drug at least once. That number was up from 5.8 percent the previous year.

Przybyszewski's best friend, Jake Levingston, leaned Saturday morning against a van parked on the driveway to the house where the 17-year-old had died just hours earlier. He declined to say whether he was involved in the party and held his head with the thumb and index finger of his right hand.

"I'll never forget him," Levingston said.

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