A Virginia student died at a fraternity house Feb. 21 after overdosing on a drug called poppy seed tea.
Steven “Austin” Underhill, 21, an engineering student and junior at James Madison University, was found dead after he and his fraternity brothers made and consumed the concoction, the New York Daily News reports.
“We know based on the research we’ve done that [the tea] does have lethal effects and that the victim consumed it,” Harrisonburg Lt. of Special Operations Chris Rush said.
However, Rush says this does not seem to be a trend at the fraternity or the university.
“This is the first case we’ve had around here. There’s nothing to indicate there was any kind of initiation,” he said.
Family and the community mourn the loss of the student.
“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 we have to believe he is in a much better place,” Underhill’s father, Gary, wrote on Facebook.
Some of the grocery stores in the community have even removed their poppy seeds.
“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, a store owner explained.
“Due to recent reports of abuse of ‘poppy tea’ the Cheese Shop will no longer sell bulk quantities of our poppy seeds without proof of a business license,” reads the sign he recently posted on his store in response to the death.
Meanwhile, Underhill’s fraternity brothers have set up a GoFundMe page for their friend’s family.
“As many of you already know our brother in Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), and more importantly our great friend, Steven Austin Underhill passed away this weekend. Out of this tragedy we wish to bring some relief to his family in their time of need. It's important for the community to come together and be there for each other,” they wrote on the page.