South Carolina Newspaper the State
Thursday July 12, 2001
Teen seeks thrill, almost finds death
By CAROL J.G. WARD and CHRISTINA LEE KNAUSS Staff Writers
The search for a cheap high ended in a life-threatening situation for a Sumter teen-ager last week.
Seventeen-year-old Brittany Frye and two friends went looking for so-called magic mushrooms in a cow pasture. What they found and ingested, however, was a toxic variety that destroyed Frye's liver.
She underwent a liver transplant in Charleston last week. Her mother, Leisa, donated part of her liver for the transplant, which took place at the Medical University of South Carolina. Doctors at MUSC say it's thought to be the first time a living donor has been used for a transplant necessitated by toxic mushrooms.
The whole experience has been a frightening eye-opener for the girl and her father, James Frye, 38.
"I just didn't know how this could happen -- how you could get liver failure and be so close to death just from a mushroom," Frye said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. The girl ingested a glass of tea made with a handful of small mushrooms around 3 a.m. on July 2, said Dr. Kenneth Chavin, a liver transplant surgeon at MUSC. By the morning, she was treated for gastroenteritis at Tuomey Regional Medical Center in Sumter and released.
Twenty-four hours later, Frye was back at the hospital.
The surgery took all day Saturday. Doctors removed Brittany Frye's liver, which was 3-4 times its normal size, Chavin said. Leisa Frye's liver was divided, and the right lobe was removed and transplanted.
Three days later Brittany Frye came out of a coma, and both mother and daughter are recovering.
If there was anything lucky in this incident, it was that Brittany tried her experiment when she did.
"If this had happened six months ago, she would be dead because we didn't have the living donor program then," the doctor said.
Frye said the incident scared him, but he never felt angry at his daughter for her experimentation.
"There are kids who, even if they have good sense, are going to experiment and try things," Frye said.
The teen and her friends found the mushrooms growing in a cow pasture. The teen-agers believed an urban legend that hallucinogenic mushrooms grow in cow patties.
In fact, they turned out to be mushrooms from the amanita family, which contain toxins that can cause liver damage, Chavin said.
"Any mushroom can grow in a cow patty," said Brooks Metts, director of the Palmetto Poison Center.
"Unfortunately, this girl had to find that out the hard way."
Experimenting with hallucinogenic mushrooms can be like playing Russian roulette, Metts added.
"If you get the chamber with the live bullet in it, at best you're going to get very sick. At worst, you're not going to make it," he said.
One of Frye's friends suffered some liver damage, but it was not life-threatening. The other apparently did not eat any of the toxic mushrooms, family members said.
According to Chavin, Frye and her friends had experimented with hallucinogenic mushrooms before with no ill effects.
Magic mushrooms produce effects similar to LSD, MDMA, Ecstasy or other club drugs, said Kim Larick, public affairs director with The Behavioral Health Center of the Midlands in Columbia. They can cause physical and mental relaxation, fatigue, hallucinations or nausea, Larick said.
Some mushrooms are easy to identify; for others, it may take close examination of the spore prints. Even relatively skilled mushroom hunters can make mistakes. "For the novice, it's a crap shoot," he said."... All you need is one to get into trouble."
With the amanita type of mushroom, even cooking won't destroy the toxin, Metts said. Besides being dangerous, it's illegal to ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms. "We tell people if you don't buy it at the Pig, don't eat it," he said.
though Frye's experimentation with mushrooms led to a life-threatening
situation, Metts said teen-agers believe they're invincible. Sometimes it's
difficult to convince them that substances such as alcohol, tobacco or drugs can
harm them, he said. "Other than continuing to preach your case, I don't
know what parents can do," he said.
Posted on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004
Clemson student faces felonydrug charges
A Clemson University student faces felony drug charges after university police say they found marijuana and equipment to make other drugs in his dorm room.
Linas Antanas Vaskys, 18, of Sykesville, Md., was arrested Thursday on charges of possession of marijuana and manufacture of controlled substances, Clemson officials said.
University police say they found 28.1 grams of marijuana and equipment to grow psilocybin mushrooms, which can be used as a drug.
Vaskys has been suspended from Clemson pending a university judicial hearing.
Associated Press --http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/local/10216495.htm
Mushroom Bust Nets Seven Arrests, Surprises Neighbors
Sheriff: Drugs Valued At $100,000
POSTED: 9:25 pm EDT April 7, 2005
UPDATED: 5:42 am EDT April 8, 2005
SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C.
Investigators said they have made the largest illegal mushroom bust in the history of Spartanburg County.
Narcotics officers raided a home near Inman late Wednesday night and seized $100,000 worth of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
"They were manufacturing it," said Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck White. "They were shipping it to different parts of the country, not just around Spartanburg County."
Deputies charged seven people with possession with intent to distribute psilocybin, the drug's scientific name.
"It was an ongoing investigation, more than a week or two," said Wright. "They kept a lot of notes and surveillance."
Hallucinogenic mushrooms have effects similar to LSD. People can hallucinate for up to eight hours after ingesting the drug.
Neighbors said they were unaware of what was going on in the home, but they're glad to see it go away.
"Just a big surprise. I don't think anybody realized what all was going on until [Wednesday] night," Eddie Owens said. "There are a lot of kids around here, and I have three, and I'm glad to see it gone."Copyright 2005 by TheCarolinaChannel.
Posted October 5th and updated on October 11, 2007.
Greenville Teen Falls 5 Stories From USC Dorm
COLUMBIA, S.C. A college student from Greenville was seriously injured in a five-story floor from his dorm room at the University of South Carolina early Friday morning.
University officials said Taylor Cothran, an 18-year-old freshman, fell from his Capstone Hall room at about 2:30 a.m. They said that Cothran fell onto the first-floor roof.
A campus spokesman said that a student on the second floor heard a noise and looked out and saw Cothran lying on the roof over the food court.
Officials said Cothran was transported to Richland Memorial Hospital where he was admitted in critical condition. On Sunday, his condition was upgraded to fair.
Cothran graduated from J.L. Mann High School last spring. He was a member of the high school lacrosse team.
One of his high school friends, Daniel Cooper, spoke with WYFF News 4.
"When you come back to visit people you graduated with and you hear one of your friends fell out of a dormitory building, it's kind of hard to believe. You're taken aback at first, but then you're like, 'Wow that really happened. It happened to a kid I knew,' he said. "So I'll just be praying for his family and him and hope he gets better soon because he's a good kid and it's horrible that something like that happens to good people."
A university spokesman said that the fall appears to be accidental, but the circumstances are "unusual" because the windows of the dorm are small and "don't open all the way." Officials also said that the glass in the window was fully broken out.
Campus police and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are investigating Cothran's fall.
Cooper said, "I knew him through freshman year. We hung
out at lunch. We went on the freshman Florida trip and I was in classes with
him through the years graduated with him. So I knew him a good bit. He was a
fun-loving kid -- you know, fun to be around. Always had a smile on his face.
And it's just hard to realize things like that happen and they happen so close
SLED: USC Student's Death In Fall Ruled Accidental
POSTED: 10:42 am EDT May 30, 2008M
UPDATED: 10:52 am EDT May 30, 2008
Investigators said that a USC student from Greenville had taken hallucinogenic mushrooms and smoked marijuana before he fell to his death from a dorm-room window last October.
Taylor Cothran, 18, was alone in his fifth-floor room at Capstone Residence Hall on Oct. 5 when he fell four floors to the roof of the dorm's food court.
The J.L. Mann graduate died five days later after being hospitalized in critical condition.