Affidavit: Teen nearly died after snorting, swallowing Xanax and other pills provided by Lawrence man

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Dana S. Wingert

A 15-year-old boy nearly died after snorting and swallowing a cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol he got from an older man he was partying with, a police affidavit says.

The boy and his 16-year-old friend both passed out after taking the pills, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana that night, according to the affidavit. While police were able to revive the 16-year-old at the scene, the 15-year-old was taken to a hospital in critical condition, unable to breathe on his own, and placed on life support.

The man whose house they were visiting, Dana S. Wingert, 56, of Lawrence, stands charged in Douglas County District Court with distributing a controlled substance causing great bodily harm, two counts of aggravated child endangerment, and interfering with law enforcement by concealing evidence, all felonies. He’s also charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, misdemeanors.

Wingert was arrested in the early morning hours of April 21, after police responded to his home and found the two boys unresponsive in the living room, surrounded by drugs and paraphernalia, according to the affidavit, which the Journal-World requested and recently obtained from the court.

According to the affidavit:

Officers woke the 16-year-old with a sternum rub — or rapping on his chest bone — but could not awaken the 15-year-old, who was “extremely pale” and had labored breathing.

The unresponsive teen was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital then transferred to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., after becoming unable to breathe on his own and placed on a breathing machine for life support. The boy’s father told police later that day that he was improving, showing signs of movement, but had not regained consciousness. The affidavit contained no more recent information about the boy’s condition.

A preliminary drug screen by the hospital showed he tested positive for marijuana, trazodone (a prescription antidepressant), benzodiazepine (the family of drugs to which Xanax, prescribed for anxiety, belongs) and Flexeril (commonly prescribed as a muscle relaxer).

Inside Wingert’s house, police found numerous prescription pill bottles in his name, a plateful of marijuana and numerous smoking devices. Officers found pills on the floor, whole and broken. Also on the floor was a picture-less glass picture frame with crushed pills, a razor blade and a cut straw on top.

Wingert lived alone, but the boys — one of whom lived in the neighborhood — went over to his house about 7:30 p.m. the previous night.

The 16-year-old told police that they brought their own marijuana and that Wingert gave them Xanax, hydrocodone and alcohol. He said he drank the liquor, snorted Xanax and swallowed hydrocodone. He told police he saw his friend take about five of the pills by snorting and swallowing them.

He said they both smoked marijuana, too.

Another man who arrived at the house later that night said the boys appeared high when he got there and at some point passed out.

The man said he wanted to “prank” them by throwing water on them. He said when the 15-year-old didn’t respond he had to convince Wingert to call 911 instead of just letting the boys “sleep it off.”

Officers arrived in minutes, at 5:50 a.m., and asked what happened to the 15-year-old.

Wingert claimed he’d been training the boy for cycling and that he’d ridden his bicycle 100 miles the night before and 80 miles already that morning. He told police the boy was unresponsive because of exhaustion, allergies and asthma.

Police noted that Wingert was in street clothes, not cycling attire.

Officers reported spotting a plate of marijuana and a pipe in the living room when they arrived, but later couldn’t find it. They confronted Wingert, who admitted he’d hidden it and then showed the officers where it was.

On his application for a court-appointed attorney in the case, Wingert indicated that he was unemployed and disabled. His attorney, Branden Smith, didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

Wingert is free on $50,000 personal recognizance bond, with “intensive” pretrial supervision, according to court documents. Among bond conditions, he was ordered not to have contact with anyone under 18 and to wear a patch detecting illegal drug use.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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