Toddler recovering from methadone overdose; mom, boyfriend charged

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MANCHESTER, NH – A 19-month-old boy is learning how to walk again after drinking his mother’s methadone last July, resulting in his hospitalization for 1-½ weeks in the intensive care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, according to court documents.

On Monday, his mother’s boyfriend, Derrick Richards-Lewis, 34, of 394 Second St., Apt. 209, was arraigned in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District on charges of criminal liability to first-degree assault; reckless conduct; endangering the welfare of a child, and possession of a controlled dug methamphetamine.  He has turned himself in after police obtained warrants for his arrest.

Last week, the toddler’s mother, Brianna Lavoie, 34, of the same address, was arraigned on the same offenses.   

Police learned of the apparent overdose on July 26 when they were called by Stoughton, Mass. police who said they believed the overdose originated in Manchester.

About 2 p.m. that day, Ashya Coughlin-Torres, 22, and Brandon Leblanc, 22, neighbors of Lavoie’s, took Lavoie’s children to Ikea in Stoughton to give Lavoie and her boyfriend a break.

When they arrived at Ikea, Coughlin-Torres noticed the toddler was lethargic.  They gave him a sippy cup and put some water in his hair but nothing worked.  They contacted Lavoie on Facebook and she said to bring the child home.  While driving back, Coughlin-Torres became increasingly concerned when the child’s breathing slowed and his lips went pale. She drove him to the nearest hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, Mass.

She told police when she arrived at the hospital, she thought he was dead, that his eyes were wide open and he was limp.  He was blue and she ran into the hospital screaming for help.  The child was intubated and then med-flighted to Boston.

Police later obtained the child’s medical records which indicated when he was admitted he was unresponsive and in cardiac arrest, resulting in his immediate intubation. He tested positive for methadone.  He was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital for 1-½ weeks.  As of Aug. 11, he was set to be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital to learn how to walk again. 

Investigators talked with Lavoie’s older son who told them his baby brother almost died the other day.  He said his brother drank red stuff that is for his step-dad’s tooth and that his brother wasn’t feeling that good.  He said the cup was in his mom’s room on her makeup shelf which was about as high as his brother is tall.

He was watching TV when he saw his bother reach up, take the cup from the edge and drink from it.  He said his mom was in the bathroom at the time and his step-dad was “chilling” outside, according to the affidavit of Detective John Dunleavy.  He said his mom knew the toddler drank from it because he told her his brother had.  Both his mom and stepdad “freaked out,” and his mom said, “if he keeps drinking this stuff he is going to die.”  His mom and stepdad gave his brother some water and told him to puke.

He said later that day his mom’s friend Ashya and Brandon took them to Ikea and that his brother was sleeping the whole time and was not OK.  He described his brother as “blacked out” – that is, he couldn’t stay awake.

According to court records, Lavoie and Richards-Lewis are recovering drug addicts who obtain methadone from a clinic in Hudson.  They are given take-home dosages on the weekends.

When police spoke with Lavoie, she initially told them that she had spilled the methadone in the bathroom.  She cleaned it up and threw the tissue in the garbage. She said her son got into the garbage and ate the tissue.

Investigators told her they had talked with her other son who told them what happened.  She then said that Richards-Lewis saw the toddler climb a gray tote in front of the vanity and grab the cup.  Richards-Lewis took the cup from him.  Lavoie said she was afraid and tried to figure out what to do because she understood it was “lethal.”  Lavoie said they planned to just watch the child because she knew he had not drank the whole 107 mg dose.

She said she did not call 911 or poison control because she was worried the state would take her children. She said an hour and a half passed and the child remained the same.  They told their neighbors the child may have gotten into something but did not tell them it was methadone.

Richards-Lewis said he suggested to Lavoie that the child not go to Ikea but decided he could since he was acting normal.

Police obtained a search warrant for the couple’s apartment and found a backpack, on an upper closet shelf in the main bedroom, which held a sock with a cup inside with what appeared to be a small amount of methadone; digital scales and “pokers,” instruments used to scrape drugs from a pipe; capped needles; glass pipes, straws; lighters; spoons; two pieces of Kleenex with a red substance on them; small plastic baggies with several chards of a crystal-like substance consistent with methamphetamine.

The older child was placed with his great-grandparents.



About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.