The tragic death of two teenagers in one Tennessee town gives a horrifying new meaning to Mountain Dew's classic catchphrase: "Ya-hoo, Mountain Dew! It'll Tickle Yore Innards!" Two teens in the Tennessee town of Greenbrier are reported to have died after allegedly drinking a cocktail of Mountain Dew and racing fuel—a high-performance variant of gasoline meant to replace or be mixed with traditional gasoline.
Last Thursday, local authorities were called to the Franklin Farms home of 16-year-old Logan Stephenson, who was found unresponsive and having a seizure in his bed. USA Today reports that within minutes of arriving at the scene, authorities were then called to the home of Stephenson's unnamed friend, who was rushed to the hospital and was in a coma before dying Monday afternoon.
Since Stephenson's death came to light last Thursday, Greenbrier Police Chief K.D. Smith says that two other teenagers have come forward and admitted to drinking a similar substance. In fact, Dr. Donna Seger of the Tennessee Poison Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has stated that in total, four similar cases have been reported in Robertson County, where Greenbrier is located.
Racing fuel, which is used in drag racing, is made of methanol, a non-potable type of alcohol, says Seger. If you drink it, it may get you high at first, but soon thereafter, you may suffer from symptoms ranging from simple blurred vision to death. Not to mention nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, blindness, and coma.
According to the National Institutes of Health, as little as two tablespoons of methanol can kill a child. Two to eight ounces is deadly for an adult. Kids evidently combine the fuel with Mountain Dew and call the concoction "Dewshine," but it shouldn't be confused with the craft soft drink marketed by Mountain Dew under the same name.
According to Seger, the teens purposefully ingested the illegal form of Dewshine. "They thought they knew what it was, that it was a substitute for alcohol," she said. "They thought they would get the same effects as alcohol, but they weren't aware of how toxic it was."
Is drinking methanol now a thing among American teenagers? It's unclear, experts say. Seger adds, "These two deaths have brought it to our attention. We have to try to make sure that adolescents are aware of the toxicity. Kids usually communicate more among themselves, and we need to make more kids aware of this, statewide." Methanol poisoning is certainly not unknown. Reports of unwitting tourists being served cheap methanol drinks in Indonesia and Bali have surfaced of late. And huffing gasoline has long been a problem in the US and elsewhere.
"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the parents and family members of these young men," Robertson County Schools Director Mike Davis said. "I think we will make the special effort to inform students of the dangers related to the deaths of these boys. We need to be reminding kids to make good choices."
There's only one kinds of Dewshine you should be drinking, kids. And that's debatable at best.