Inquest into death of Caitlin White (15) hears she had taken a 'high level of ecstasy' before she died
A CORONER has warned young people of the dangers of "playing Russian roulette" with their lives after an inquest found a 15-year-old Co Armagh girl had taken high levels of Ecstasy before she died.
There were emotional scenes at Newry Courthouse yesterday as the devastated mother of Caitlin White, from Tandragee re-lived how she found her unconscious in a wooded area near the Corcrain estate in Portadown.
Distraught Theresa White told the inquest she had spoken to her daughter on the phone moments before she collapsed on May 20 2017.
"We were at McDonald's in Portadown and I'd phoned her to see if she wanted a lift home," she said.
"It took four times before I got hold of her and she told me she didn't feel well, she said 'will you come and collect me'.
"I said to her 'I'll be over baby' and she said 'I love you' and I said 'love you'."
When Mrs White arrived she said there was a group of around 30 youths gathered around her daughter who "was just lying there".
"She had been taking blackouts...I thought it was one of them. I didn't think it was drugs," she said.
"She had been suffering from depression, she was hearing voices, telling her to 'go kill yourself'. After her father went into prison last September, she went off the rails.
"I just thought it was one of those turns. There was white stuff coming out of her mouth, that's when there was panic to get her out of there."
Friend Laura Herron (16) described meeting Caitlin, a Craigavon Senior High School pupil, at the woods.
"First of all, she seemed like she had already taken something, but she was able to still talk to me," she said.
"Later on she was standing under the trees, me and Molly went up to her and she was gasping for air. She said she was taking an asthma attack, so I went to try and get her an inhaler."
She said when she returned Caitlin "must have fallen and was lying on the ground".
"Her eyes had rolled to the back of her head. I tried to get her to drink some water."
She said her "really popular" friend had "started taking Ecstasy" in the weeks before she died.
Paramedic Alan McElmurray told the inquest when he arrived "there was no response from the patient" and there was "conflicting" reports about what had happened to her.
The family and coroner Joe McCriskin raised concerns during yesterday's hearing about the length of time it took for an ambulance to arrive at the scene.
The court heard police at the scene had requested an ambulance at 6.33pm, but Mr McElmurray was only tasked at 7.05pm.
Mr McCriskin said the "implication I would imagine was that there was no ambulances at 6.33pm, so it was a resource issue?".
Mr McElmurray said: "I got the call as I was clearing a patient for discharge. I knew it was a 15-year-old and that she was unconscious...it would have been a red call".
Dr Gail Brown, consultant at Craigavon Area Hospital, said despite all efforts, "unfortunately her heart had stopped... there was just no chance" and she died at 10.30pm.
A post mortem found "high levels of Ecstasy" and "small traces of cannabis" in Caitlin's body. She had not consumed alcohol.
Deputy state pathologist Peter Ingram found it was "Ecstasy that caused her death".
Mr McCriskin said "this young girl's death should serve as a warning to everyone to the consequences of the deadly use of taking drugs".
"Ecstasy is a deadly drug and a drug that all of our community should be aware about," he said.
Mr McCriskin warned young people that taking Ecstasy was "like playing Russian roulette, you don't know how you will react".
"The sheer effects of the drugs mean sometimes there's nothing can be done."