Wednesday 20 September 2017

Warning issued about 'lethal white powder' following death of talented footballer (16)

David Lane and inset Michael Cornacchia
David Lane and inset Michael Cornacchia
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The HSE has issued a public health message about a lethal white powder following the death of a teenager in Cork city.

Michael Cornacchia was discovered in an unresponsive state in a bedroom at his home in the Deerpark estate, Friars Walk, on the southside of Cork city on Monday.

The shocking discovery was made by his mother shortly after 10am on Monday.

Now David Lane, Co-Ordinator of Drug & Alcohol Services with the HSE in the city, has warned of the potential dangers of the synthetic drug known as U-47700, or by its street name U-4.

Speaking on RTE News, he said: "It hasn't appeared in an Irish context previously. We are aware that this particular drug has been implicated in deaths in the United States, other parts of Europe and the UK.

"So we are issuing this public health message to let people know that it has made an appearance on the streets in Cork. We are appealing through various networks in Cork city for drug users to avoid taking the substance."

The substance has the appearance of cocaine and some users may mistake it for cocaine.

Users who think they may have the substance are advised to dispose of it or, if they insist on taking it, to do so in the presence of a friend.

The drug was first recorded in Tennessee in the United States in June 2015, and has been linked to at least 50 deaths in 10 US states.

It is the first time the drug has been recorded in this country.

Mr Cornacchia was discovered unresponsive on Monday and medical personnel were called but despite their best efforts the teenager was pronounced dead at the scene.

A talented footballer, Michael played for his local club Kilreen Celtic.

Chairman of the club Donal Kelleher described him as a “quiet” and “popular” teenager.

“He was with us for a good few years and was playing with the U16s recently. He was a good player, he played centre-half for us,” Mr Kelleher told Independent.ie.

“He would have got on well with all the lads, he was a popular guy. He used to have long, dark hair down to his shoulders so everyone would have known him. He was a good young fella who was quiet. It’s very hard for everyone at the club to take.”

Gardaí have spoken to friends of the tragic teenager and believe he had been out socialising on Sunday night.

A toxicology report will determine the exact cause of Michael’s death.

However, it may take several weeks to complete.

“It can take at least five weeks for the results of a toxicology report to come back to establish what has caused the death, but gardaí have spoken with his friends and are satisfied with the timeline in the hours leading up to the discovery of Michael’s body,” a senior source said.

A post-mortem examination was expected to take place at Cork University Hospital last night.

Residents in the Deerpark estate expressed their shock at the death, with one local woman describing Michael as a “very pleasant” teenager.

“I have two children of my own so my heart goes out to his parents and what they are going through. He was a very pleasant boy and seemed to be well liked by people in the area,” a neighbour said.

Schoolboys arrived at the housing estate yesterday to sympathise with his grieving relatives. Neighbour Jack O’Keeffe said the youngster had “everything going for him”.

“He was a handsome lad. A beautiful lad. We are all devastated... He had everything in life going for him,” he said.

Former Cork City Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary expressed his sympathies with Michael’s family.

“It is a very tragic situation for the family and my deepest condolences go out to them at this time,” Mr O’Leary said.

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