Mental Health

Gasoline Cocktail Using Mountain Dew May Have Killed 2 Teens: What Drinking Gas Does To Your Insides

Mountain Dew Mix
Teens may be mixing together Mountain Dew with gasoline to get a high that's deadly enough to cost their lives. Photo courtesy of Flickr, fauxto_digit

Two teens are dead after drinking a combination of gasoline mixed with Mountain Dew, and officials suspect the dangerous concoction is to blame. Substituting alcohol for the more toxic and potent racing fuel has led to the third and fourth deaths reported in Tennessee, bringing the matter to the attention of poison centers.

Logan Stephenson, 16, was pronounced dead in his home in Greenbrier, Tenn., on Thursday morning, while his best friend JD Byram was rushed to a nearby medical center in a coma. Byram, also 16, died days later on Monday afternoon.

"They noticed the color of his skin had changed and he started having a seizure, his hands started drawing up," Greenbrier Police Chief KD Smith , said in an interview with WZTV. "Ask your children. Get them to be open and honest with you. Nobody is going to be in any trouble."

The Tennessee Poison Center has not received calls about poisonings from this particular concoction, but that doesn’t mean other teenagers aren’t experimenting with it. Smith said the Mountain Dew-gasoline blend has been dubbed “dewshine” or “moonshine on steroids.” That’s not to be confused with the product PepsiCo (the maker of Mountain Dew) sells called DEWshine. It’s a non-alcoholic, caffeinated beverage advertised as a “craft, premium soft drink inspired by the brand’s roots in the backwoods of Tennessee.”

Dangers of Dewshine

The racing fuel Stephenson and Byram consumed shortly before their death is a combination of gasoline and methanol. Methanol is the simplest form of alcohol and is closely related to ethanol, which is the type of alcohol normally found present in beer, wine, and spirits. However, methanol poses significantly higher levels of toxicity, and is probably the high the teens were after. According to the National Institutes of Health, as little as two tablespoons can be deadly to a child, while two to eight ounces are deadly to the average adult.

"I think they were trying to substitute the methanol that's in racing fuel for alcohol," Donna Seger, a medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor of clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University, told NBC News. "Methanol is metabolized to very, very strong acid. The pH of the blood goes so low, it's incompatible with life."

At first, drinking methanol is similar to getting drunk from alcohol because, according to Seger, ingesting it “causes the cellular machinery to break down.” When methanol metabolizes it processes through the eyes, which can lead to blurred vision, pupil dilation, and blindness. It’s a form of alcohol used for industrial and automotive purposes, making it highly dangerous for consumption. When it enters into the body, people report experiencing breathing difficulty, convulsions, low blood pressure, seizures, comas, bluish-colored lips and fingernails, and death—all of which were symptomatic reactions to the teens after consumption, leading officials to believe the concoction was to blame.

“These two deaths have brought it to our attention,” Seger said. “We have to try to make sure that adolescents are aware of the toxicity. Kids usually communicate more among themselves, and we need to make more kids aware of this, statewide.”

Loading...