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Medical Examiner’s Office Releases Cause of Death for Two Damonte Ranch Students
Two High School Students Died of Drug Intoxication in Early 2020

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Ventetuolo

Reno, Nev. March 4, 2020. The Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the cause of death for two Damonte Ranch High School students who passed away in late January and early February 2020.  Both young men died of drug intoxication.

Daniel Davis, aged 17 years, died on January 29, 2020.  His cause of death was acute fentanyl and MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine) intoxication. 

Jacob Miles Eckart, aged 18 years, died on February 3, 2020.  His cause of death was acute fentanyl intoxication. 

The manner of death in both cases was accident.  According to our investigation, each of the young men may have thought that they were abusing prescription pain pills.

The next-of-kin for each of these young men has been notified of the cause of death.

MDA is a stimulant drug with similar structure to MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as Ecstasy).  MDA can be used directly or be present as a breakdown product of MDMA.  Both drugs are psychotropic amphetamine derivatives, act as a central nervous system stimulant and can be hallucinogenic in large doses.  These drugs are illegally manufactured and obtained.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic narcotic pain medication with a short duration of action and high potency, 100 times the potency of morphine.  Fentanyl is a prescription medication given for severe pain, but also can be illicitly manufactured and distributed for abuse.  Mixture of fentanyl with other illicit drugs including heroin is commonly being seen in our community.  Alarmingly, fentanyl may be present in pressed pills that are being illegally manufactured and sold as other less-potent opioid medications like Oxycontin (oxycodone) or Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen).  Fentanyl’s presence in street drugs greatly increases the risk of overdose and death, even in those tolerant to other less powerful opioids.

Dangers of Substance Abuse

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and Reno Office of the DEA continue to emphasize the importance of awareness about the dangers of ingesting drugs that come from anywhere other than a professional pharmacy based on a prescription from a license practitioner.

“I am asking for parents to have a serious conversation with their children,” Sheriff Balaam said. “Make sure they understand the horrendous potential for tragedy that may result from experimenting with drugs, even when they come from someone you know.”

Unfortunately, technology has allowed illegitimate drug makers to produce very credible looking product. The result being that individuals may end up ingesting synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or other chemicals that can cause serious harm, or death.

“This is truly a life-or-death message,” Sheriff Balaam said. “And we must all take responsibility for trying to prevent any future tragedy by talking with our children, being true friends to our friends, and leave the drugs alone.”

For more information about drug abuse, prevention, and counseling, visit Join Together Northern Nevada at jtnn.org    


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Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »