‘I think we were failed’: Family mourns girl who died of possible fentanyl overdose at Hollywood school


Melanie Ramos, a 15-year-old pupil at Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood, cherished to journey and dreamed of at some point becoming a member of the Army.

Her life was reduce brief Tuesday night time by a suspected fentanyl overdose after she and one other pupil purchased what they believed were Percocet tablets from a 15-year-old boy on campus.

Melanie Ramos, a 15-year-old student at Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood, who died of a suspected fentanyl overdose.

Melanie Ramos, a 15-year-old pupil at Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood, who died of a suspected fentanyl overdose.

(Johann Hervert)

Melanie was discovered unresponsive in a toilet by her good friend’s stepfather and a school worker about 9 p.m., when the campus was open for volleyball and soccer video games, the Los Angeles Police Department stated. Paramedics pronounced her useless at the scene. Her good friend additionally overdosed and was hospitalized.

“She was a very loving child,” stated Xochitl Quintero, 41, Melanie’s aunt. “She had a great relationship with her two sisters. Her best friend was her younger sister, who took her loss very hard.”

Gladys Manriques, 36, one of Melanie’s members of the family, stated they were indignant that the school system had failed to guard college students — and she or he believes officers have been conscious of drug points on campus.

“I’ve talked to parents who’ve had their kids overdose at the school and they tried to address it with the school, but unfortunately nothing was done, and our Melanie has to be the example,” she stated.

“I think we were failed in many directions,” Manriques stated. “This pill is poison. I call it the devil pill, and it’s going to continue unless you start breaking down the chain.”

School officers have stated they were conscious of drug points amongst some college students and have been actively addressing the issue. And they are saying they may do far more to lift pupil and guardian consciousness and supply enhanced safety.

Melanie, her household stated, was a “good kid” who was glad and “full of life.” As far as they knew, Melanie hadn’t struggled with drug use. They imagine that she had been peer pressured into attempting medicine.

People enter Helen Bernstein School

Officials at Helen Bernstein High School have stated they were conscious of drug points amongst some college students and have been actively addressing the issue.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“You tell when a kid struggles in any sense. They shut themselves out and they don’t want to be social, not even with family members, but that wasn’t the case here,” Manriques stated. “She was very respectful, and she made sure she let her mom know where she was at all times.”

On Friday, college students and academics mourned Melanie’s demise and created a memorial on the entrance steps of the school, the place folks have left flowers, candles, letters and a bag of caramel sweet.

“It’s been sad,” ninth-grader Chey Payne stated. “Some of our teachers are sad, some are just trying to move past it. I know a lot of students feel sad about it.”

Chey stated medicine were an issue in center school; however now that she’s in excessive school, she’s heard about extra college students overdosing.

“You have to learn how to say no,” she stated. “You have to be cautious because the world is a dangerous place.”

A 15-year-old boy — a pupil at Apex Academy, an unbiased constitution school on the Bernstein campus — was arrested Thursday on suspicion of manslaughter, accused of promoting the tablets to Melanie and her good friend.

Officials speak about the death of Melanie Ramos at Helen Bernstein High School.

L.A. Unified Supt. Alberto Carvalho, heart, speaks about Melanie Ramos’ demise at Helen Bernstein High School.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A 16-year-old Apex pupil was arrested on suspicion of narcotics gross sales for allegedly promoting tablets at close by Lexington Park on Tuesday to a 3rd pupil, a 17-year-old boy from Hollywood High School. The identities of the arrested boys were not launched as a result of they’re minors.

Police imagine there was a fourth pupil who overdosed at the park, however her id just isn’t recognized.

Melanie’s demise has prompted the Los Angeles Unified School District, metropolis leaders and legislation enforcement officers to deal with the overdoses plaguing excessive colleges throughout the state.

LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza, who oversees the gang and narcotics division, stated the precise make-up of the tablets concerned in Melanie’s demise remains to be underneath evaluation, however authorities imagine it was nearly definitely contained fentanyl — as are the overwhelming quantity of the tablets seized by the division.

Over the final three weeks, at least six Los Angeles Unified college students, together with the three from Tuesday, have been concerned within the use of narcotics, “some resulting in overdose, some resulting in students being transported to a medical facility, some being immediately released to the parents,” L.A. Unified Supt. Alberto Carvalho stated.

Manriques stated their household has loads of unanswered questions on Melanie’s demise and need to know why school police, employees and safety weren’t patrolling the halls or blocking the bogs throughout after-school actions.

When Melanie and her good friend didn’t return from school Tuesday, Melanie’s mother reported her lacking and filed a police report, in accordance with Melanie’s household. The stepfather of the opposite girl was additionally searching for his daughter and went to the school.

The gate of a park

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of promoting tablets Tuesday to a Hollywood High School pupil at close by Lexington Park.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Police returned to Melanie’s mom’s residence about 2 a.m. to tell her about her daughter’s demise.

“We’re all devastated,” Manriques stated. “How do you tell a 7-year-old that her sister’s not coming home anymore?”

She stated members of the family helped Melanie’s mom break the information of her demise to the girl’s sister.

“To hear her cry for close to an hour, that’s really painful,” Manriques stated.

The household has arrange a GoFundMe web page to Help with day by day residing bills as they grieve. As of Friday afternoon, practically $6,000 of their $10,000 objective has been raised.

Melanie’s household stated they were relieved to listen to of the arrests, however they nonetheless need extra folks held accountable. They additionally hope that the district will do extra to to coach dad and mom and college students concerning the risks of drug use.

“I keep telling parents to take five minutes out of their busy day to talk to their children. Pay attention to who they’re hanging out with,” Manriques stated. “The school district should educate the kids and the parents. If you can’t do an assembly, send out fliers or use whatever app you use at your school.

“Our message for every kid out there is if you think of taking this drug or any drug that somebody or you got ahold of, think of our Melanie,” she stated. “Think of the pain that we’re going through and the pain that you can cause your family.”

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