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Published: Saturday, 4/15/2006

4 boys found unresponsive near Swanton

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

SWANTON Four teenage boys found unresponsive yesterday morning perhaps because they took a disabled grandfather s muscle relaxants while spending the night at his home remained last night in Toledo hospitals where at least two were in critical condition.

Fulton County sheriff s Dispatcher Bob Brehm said deputies had heard a couple of reports that muscle relaxants prescribed for the 67-year-old grandfather with multiple sclerosis might be behind yesterday s mystery of the unresponsive teenagers.

We re just passing that word along to the hospitals and letting them take it from there, he said.

Early in the day, however, deputies said they had no clue as to why the teenagers, whose bodies bore no exterior evidence of injury, were unresponsive.

Chief Deputy Roy Miller said he had not seen anything like it in his 15 years in the sheriff s office.

And I don t wish to ever again, he said about watching the teenagers being loaded onto medical helicopters. They had a pulse and were breathing on their own, but authorities were unable to communicate with them.

John Engelhardt and his cousin, James Elliott, both 14, along with Ryan Krise, also 14, spent the night with 17-year-old Jimmy Dennis at the home of his grandfather south of Swanton.

The boys had a bonfire about

10 p.m. Thursday, according to a neighbor.

Then at some point, John left the house. He was found unresponsive about 8:30 a.m. in an unlocked van belonging to strangers about a quarter mile south of the Dennis home on Fulton County Road 2 in Swancreek Township.

The owners of the van called authorities, who sent John to Fulton County Health Center, Wauseon. He was transferred to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

Along the way, someone recognized him and authorities called his aunt with whom he lives in Lucas County, near Swanton.

John s aunt told sheriff s deputies that he had gone to Jimmy s house with her son, James. She said she had not heard from James yesterday morning either.

So deputies, trying to determine why John was found unresponsive, went to Jimmy s.

There they were met by Jimmy s grandfather, James Dennis, who said he had been unable to awaken the boys in Jimmy s bedroom yesterday morning but had not called for help.

Deputies found two boys on the floor and one on the bed all in a similar condition to John.

John and James were in critical condition last night in the St. Vincent pediatric intensive care unit.

No information was available on the other boys, who were flown to Toledo Hospital.

Deputies said they were awaiting results of medical tests from the hospitals to further their investigation.

Neighbors said James is in the eighth grade at Swanton and Ryan, who previously attended Swanton classes, is in the eighth grade in the Pike-Delta-York district.

Several neighbors said Jimmy had dropped out of school.

Contact Jane Schmucker at: jschmucker@theblade.com or 419-337-7780.



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