It’s the stuff that nightmares are made of; something every parent dreads, but no parent can imagine. A star football player that graduated with honors from Spring Mills High School in Martinsburg, West Virginia, died after he took a drug that was laced with something lethal. Few details are immediately available, but the impact of his life and death upon school officials and classmates is clear. Jorge Armando Mercado-Medrano, 18, died from a drug overdose while allegedly at a party shortly after his graduation from Spring Mills High School, located in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Spring Mills High is a fairly new school with state-of-the-art teachers, coaches, and classrooms for the students who attend there. Martinsburg is located in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, which is considered a suburb of Washington, D.C., only about an hour’s travel from the nation’s capital. However, despite the issues that present with easy access to big cities, life is mostly peaceful for students in Martinsburg. They enjoy the best of both worlds, a bucolic atmosphere filled with farms and beautiful natural landscape, as well as easy access to the big city life of museums, culture, and art. However, a dark side has loomed for years. Located right off of Interstate 81, Martinsburg has been dubbed “Little Baltimore” by locals and federal agents alike, with its easy access to illegal opioids of various kinds, earning it a reputation that locals despise.
Jorge Armando Mercado-Medrano was described as intelligent, kind, and a gifted football player, prior to his tragic death just days after he graduated from Spring Mills High School with honors. His former teacher, Jessica Salfia, gave an emotional tribute on Facebook to the young man whose life touched so many.
“It’s tragic that a young life full of promise was cut short, but it’s also tragic that the rest of the world will talk about him like another statistic. Yes, the drug epidemic happening in our state and city is terrifying, and it’s time for our communities and schools to actively and aggressively work to protect our young people and fight back against the tidal wave of controlled substances that are so readily available to them. We can’t allow stories like this one to become our new normal. When we stop being shocked by a school shooting, a bomb threat, or a drug overdose…and I know a former Spring Mills Cardinal football player who hated failure, who was always optimistic and believed in his team’s ability to win, who smiled every Friday at me as he walked by my door and asked if I was coming to his game, who should be remembered as someone who was smart, creative, funny and kind. His name is Armando.”
According to WV Metro News, an arrest was made in the death of Armando Mercado-Medrano. Two Baltimore residents, Kelvin Johnson, 23, and Sykebia Stewart, 23, are each charged with three counts of distribution of a controlled substance in connection with the apparent overdose death of Mercado-Medrano. Two other students were treated for overdose from a drug supplied from Johnson and Stewart, but have so far survived. Robert Haines was taken to The Berkeley Medical Center, and one of the juveniles was taken to a Hagerstown hospital. Berkeley County prosecutor Pamela Games Neely said that felony death charges are being sought.
“We’re still exploring felony murder and some other charges right now.”
Reports that the overdoses happened at a graduation party have not been verified. A 16-year-old boy remains in serious condition at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Haines was in the intensive care unit at Berkeley Medical Center. Haines’ prognosis is officially unknown at this point.
Students were provided with counseling after learning of the death of the recent graduate.
[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]