Longform

Death of a Boca Teen Launches an Investigation into NBOMe, an LSD-Like Synthetic Drug

Joseph Kuhn's head was a madhouse, and all he wanted was a becalming glimpse of the ocean. The bad economy had killed his business first, then finished off his savings; now, he was facing foreclosure. The only thing that could douse his nerves was a daily trip to the beach. So on Thursday, June 13, 2013, the athletic 59-year-old left his place on Ocean Boulevard, crossed two lanes of sizzling blacktop, and headed for the sand. Being the Good Samaritan in a rescue situation was not even on his mind.

Near 6:30 p.m. on the shore in Boca Raton, just north of the Deerfield Beach pier, two kids walked past -- a short teenaged boy topped with a mop of dark hair and diamond stud in his ear, and a mousy-looking girl in glasses. Something in the boy's face didn't look right, Kuhn thought. A moment later, like a linebacker aiming for a ball carrier, the boy sprinted into a thicket of sea grapes nestled against the pool area of the nearest condo building. Then Kuhn heard a girl scream.

Fifteen-year-old Zachary Denaro was lying face up in the sand when Kuhn got there. Vomit clogged his mouth. Kuhn rolled him over, then roped his arms around the boy's bare chest to prop him in sitting position. Kuhn pumped his arms against Zach, a Heimlich-esque maneuver to get the lungs working. "He's turning blue," the girl said. The boy began thrashing so wildly that Kuhn's muscles hurt all week from holding him. The ambulance was supposedly on its way.

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Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson