SALT LAKE CITY — The father of a young teen who died as a result of an overdose of “pink,” a synthetic opioid, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Park City School District and Park City Police.
He claims they had a duty to warn parents that the powerful drug was making the rounds. Ryan Ainsworth and Grant Seaver, both 13, died after ingesting pink, also known as U-47700, in 2016.
In a lawsuit filed in Utah’s US District Court Tuesday, Robert Ainsworth, Ryan’s father, argued both school and law enforcement officials had ample warning that teens in the area were using pink and that it posed a serious public health threat.
The lawsuit details a situation two weeks before Ryan’s death that Ainsworth argues should have been the first warning to local law enforcers about what they were dealing with.
On August 30, 2016, Ryan’s older brother was one of five juveniles stopped by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office at Best Buy with “a brown bottle with colorless liquid, originally reported to be Benadryl,” the suit states. Those teens were released to their parents.
A few days later, on September 3, the suit alleges Park City police should have become aware that the substance in the bottle was not Benadryl but pink, when another student was hospitalized for an overdose. That student, the lawsuit claims, was a classmate of Ryan’s older brother and attended Park City High School.
However, Ainsworth claims when he found out about the August 30 incident on September 6, after the overdose of another student, he was told the substance in the vial was Benadryl.
“He was not told that the substance was U-47700, nor was he told of its toxicity,” the lawsuit continues.
Ainsworth’s lawyers claim this amounts to withholding important information that prevented Ainsworth from being able to protect his children.
The wording in the lawsuit is strong:
The [Park City Police Department] had a policy, practice, procedure and/or custom to withhold important information from parents when conducting a possible criminal investigation, and further, to instruct other parties to withhold this information. According to these policies and procedures, when the PD was investigating Grant Seaver’s death, it decided to withhold from Robert [Ainsworth] important information about the possible use of Pink by [Ryan] and [his brother], despite the PD’s knowledge that withholding this information could be fatal to [the boys], just as use of Pink had been fatal to Grant Seaver.
The suit also claims school officials would have known that Ryan may have had pink in his possession and even used it on school grounds and was not aware that it was dangerous. However, at a meeting with Ryan and school officials, Ainsworth says he was only warned that his son might be at risk for suicide, not the drug.
The lawsuit asks the court to order the police and school district to issue a public apology and take steps to “prioritize the safety of children in police and misconduct investigations.”
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