Doctor shares drug use warning signs after 15-year-old dies on school campus

A local doctor is sharing warning signs of drug use in kids for parents after a 15-year-old girl died after a drug overdose in Hollywood on a school campus.

The incident happened Tuesday at Bernstein High School. The 15-year-old girl was found unresponsive in the school's bathroom Tuesday night, and another teen girl was found collapsed on school grounds by her stepfather. That teen was taken to the hospital, and is expected to recover.

Investigators believe the teens ingested pills that were likely laced with fentanyl. The teens bought the drugs from a dealer at Lexington Park, which is now closed.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 15-year-old girl dies after overdosing on high school campus in Hollywood

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said a 17-year-old boy who attends Hollywood High School was also taken to the hospital Tuesday night after reportedly buying drugs from Lexington Park. In addition, police were informed of another teen victim with signs of an overdose in close proximity. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics administered Narcan to the fourth victim and they did not require hospitalization.

"Over the last three weeks alone, there have been six individuals who attend neighborhood schools who were at that park for the purpose of making a connection with an individual to provide them drugs. The drug of choice appears to be pills, Percocet for example, laced with fentanyl," said Carvalho.

Dr. Moe Gelbart, the Director of Behavioral Health at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, said drug use is a very common problem among teens, and the fentanyl crisis is having a huge impact.

"We need to really pay attention and do something about this crisis. The parents have to make sure they're not in denial, because parents are frightened about this, so one of the things they'll often do is tell themselves it's just a phase," said Gelbart.

Gelbart said there are warning signs of drug use in kids.

"Changes in behavior [are] primary. Also, changes in their school grades and so on, withdrawing, isolating or the flip side is having different friends, people you don't know. Also, feeling depressed or feeling anxious [can be signs]," he said.

Gelbart has advice for how parents can broach the topic with their children.

"I like to use the expression, ‘talk so your children will listen and listen so your children will talk,’ rather than [saying] 'don't do this' or 'don't do that,' or being judgmental, or [saying] how can you. You don't want to try to make them feel guilty or threatened. We want to really hear them and have them hear us," he said.

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Gelbart said education is key, and it's important children know the risks that just one pill can kill them.

"Educating our children and caring for them and showing them that we care, making sure they understand to please not go down that road [are important]. This epidemic is getting worse, not better. It's real. It's frightening, and we have to battle it everyday and not become comfortable," said Gelbart.

Special Agent in Charge with the Los Angeles DEA, Bill Bodner, said the statistics prove this is a problem, especially among teens.

"Here's what keeps me awake at night. It's these pills. Teenagers are buying these pills, thinking they're real and it's having really adverse consequences. Here in LA County to kind of bring it home, I see the reports from the Coroner's office, and I see it's ages 14 to 25 and then 34, and 35. That's where the damage is coming from our community with fentanyl," said Bodner.

The identities of the teens are not yet being released.

Anyone with information on the drug dealer at Lexington Park is asked to contact the Los Angeles Police Department.

The investigation is ongoing.