2 teens dead from apparent Benadryl overdose at Tennessee residential treatment center

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. — Two 15-year-old girls are dead after they overdosed on an over-the-counter medication while in the care of a Tennessee residential treatment center for children and adolescents, authorities said.

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According to a news release from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to the Oak Plains Academy in Ashland City, located northwest of Nashville, on Tuesday at about 9:20 a.m. CST.

Authorities said the teens were found unconscious and unresponsive and were transported to area hospitals, The Tennessean reported. One juvenile was pronounced dead at an emergency room on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said in its release. The other teen was taken to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, where she died on Wednesday.

Investigators determined that late Tuesday, the two teens gained access to the nurse’s station by moving through the bottom part of a “Dutch” style door, WZTV reported.

The teens gained access to a bottle of Benadryl and several blister packs of the over-the-counter medication, the sheriff’s office said. They took an “undetermined amount” of the medication, the release stated.

During morning classes on Tuesday, the pair became ill and then lost consciousness, the sheriff’s office said.

“Liquid medicine in particular, not only are they easy for kids to drink, but they get absorbed very quickly,” Dr. Shelia McMorrow, a pediatrician at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, told WKRN-TV. “Depending on how much was absorbed in the body and how much was taken, sometimes it is irreversible.”

In a statement, Oak Plains Academy CEO Larry Kirkland said the treatment center is cooperating with authorities.

“The leadership and staff of Oak Plains Academy extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the two individuals who passed away,” Kirkland said. “We immediately initiated an internal investigation and are cooperating fully with all agencies involved in investigating this matter. Support has been made available onsite for other patients who became aware of the incident. Due to state and federal patient privacy laws, as well as an ongoing investigation, we cannot provide further details.

“We are committed to our mission of providing quality care to patients with special, and often complex, mental health needs.”

An investigation is ongoing, the sheriff’s office said.

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