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HERMITAGE Charges are expected in student's death



Published: Sat, February 15, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



An autopsy showed the teen died of combined drug and alcohol toxicity.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Police said they expect to file criminal charges in the death of a Hickory High School senior.

Whom police will charge and with what hasn't been determined, however.

A report from the Mercer County coroner showed that Brian Grgurich, 17, of Catalina Place died of combined drug and alcohol toxicity after a party at the apartment of a friend on Lamor Road on Jan. 17. He was found dead at the apartment around 10:30 a.m. Jan. 18.

The death was ruled accidental by Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle III, who said an autopsy showed that Grgurich had the drug methadone mixed with alcohol in his system.

"There will be some charges," said Larry Matchak, deputy police chief, explaining that detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death.

"We've got to sort everything out," he said, adding that police have begun interviewing some of the other young people who were at the party that night.

Tracking substances

There were apparently some people over 21 at the gathering as well, and some adult supplied the alcohol, Matchak said, noting that police have an idea of its source. They don't know the source of the methadone yet or even if it was supplied at the party, he said.

Grgurich, a member of the high school football and track teams, had been accepted at Pennsylvania State University for admission this fall.

Karen Ionta, Hermitage school superintendent, said that just after Grgurich's death, the school brought in counselors, and letters were sent home to parents offering assistance for anyone who needed help in dealing with Grgurich's death.

Hermitage has offered drug- and alcohol-abuse education programs for years, encouraging young people to avoid illicit substance use, she said.

"That is just a part of our curriculum," Ionta said. "We continue to reinforce that at every grade level."

She said she would meet with the high school principal and other administrators to determine if some specific programs related to this case might be warranted.




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