A James Madison University student’s overdose death has been linked to a homemade opiate concoction called “poppy seed tea.”
Steven “Austin” Underhill, a junior engineering student, was found dead inside his fraternity house early Sunday after cops say he ingested the potent tea made from store-bought poppy seeds along with his fellow fraternity brothers.
The exact cause of death is unknown pending a toxicology report, but Harrisonburg, Va., police said they are aware Underhill consumed the tea before he died.
“We know based on the research we’ve done that it does have lethal effects and that the victim consumed it,” Harrisonburg Lt. of Special Operations Chris Rush told the Daily News.
Rush said a few different people at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house had been experimenting with the drug, but that it didn’t necessarily represent a trend on the JMU campus.
“This is the first case we’ve had around here. There’s nothing to indicate there was any kind of initiation,” he said.
Heartbroken family remembered the 21-year-old soccer player and college student on social media.
“As a parent you are never prepared to receive news that you have lost someone so close … It is still hard to believe our precious child is not here, but have to believe he is in a much better place,” Underhill’s father, Gary, wrote on Facebook.
Underhill’s fraternity brothers started a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral costs hoping to “bring some relief to his family in their time of need.”
The Harrisonburg community was shaken by the death connected with the obscure homemade drug and some grocery stores decided to take poppy seeds off their shelves.
“We don’t want to have any kind of a guilty conscience or to feel like we’ve contributed to someone’s addiction,” Gary Eavers, owner of the Cheese Shop in Harrisonburg, told local network WHSV.