Police have ruled 16-year-old Ashley Grady's death on Dec. 21 was accidental, caused by an overdose of oxymorphone.

Oxymorphone, an opiate, is the ingredient in a prescription drug called Opana, which is used as a medicine for physical pain and often not given to people with lung conditions or asthma.

The teen was found unresponsive in her bed at home on Fox Run Road in Lewis.

Emergency personnel were called in at 6:24 a.m. but could not revive her.

State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lt. Brent Davison said in a phone interview Wednesday that Ashley had taken the medicine accidentally.

"Opana is the common name (of the drug) that people around here are prescribed. Someone in Ashley's house was prescribed Opana, and that is where she found it," Davison said.

"There is no reason to believe it was given to her. She ended up taking too many. It was a tragic incident that reminds us of the dangers associated with prescription painkillers.

"We don't believe there is any foul play involved in how she got them."

SOURCE OF TRAGEDY

In a statement issued Wednesday, police said the teen was discovered not breathing in her bedroom by her sister that morning, and 911 was contacted.

"Elizabethtown-Lewis Rescue Squad and State Police responded, but life-saving measures were unsuccessful. Grady was pronounced deceased at the scene by Essex County Coroner Kelly Valentine, who authorized her removal to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for a post-mortem exam," the statement said.

"Dr. C. Francis Varga completed his review of the toxicology report and determined cause of death to be respiratory arrest due to oxymorphone overdose."

Painkillers do serve a medical purpose, Davison said. But they are increasingly the source of tragedy.

"Many people take them to alleviate pain. But they have to be handled properly. They should be kept in their original containers and locked up somewhere.

"No one should take medications that are not prescribed to them," he said.

"This prescription-pain-medication problem is one of the things rising most rapidly. We have had over 10 accidental overdoses in this troop in the last two years. And that doesn't account for dozens of emergency-room visits where people are lucky enough to not be killed from these pills."

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL

Grady was a well-liked athlete, a 10th-grade student at Elizabethtown Lewis Central School.

Classmates, schoolmates and friends from around the region gathered outside the school on Dec. 23 to celebrate her life with a candlelight vigil.

Born in New London, Conn., on Dec. 7, 1995, she was the daughter of Christopher Grady and Nora Rodriguez.

She is survived by her mother and stepfather, Nora and Travis McDougal; sister, Crystal Grady; brother, Julius Barreto; and extended family.

A graveside service was held Tuesday, Dec. 27, at St. Augustine's Cemetery in Peru, with the Rev. Alan D. Shnob officiating.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Peru Elmore SPCA, P.O. Box 686, Peru, NY 12972.

Email Kim Smith Dedam at: kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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