Jan 172005
Authors: J.J. Babb

Almost two weeks before Bennett Bertoli would have celebrated his 21st birthday on Jan. 11 the former CSU student's parents received an autopsy report about the cause of his death.

The Larimer County Coroner released the cause of Bertoli's death as intoxication with ethanol and methadone Dec. 29.

The freshman open-option seeking business major was found dead Dec. 11 at 1201 S. Shields St. According to the autopsy report, Bertoli had an alcohol level of 0.124 and a methadone level of 193 nanograms per milliliter.

Methadone is often used for intense pain or narcotic withdrawal, said Deb Morris, a health educator at Hartshorn Health Service.

She also said methadone is an opiate and a derivative of synthetic biphenylheptane medication.

Keith Hardes, a pharmacist at Hartshorn, described methadone as a medication often used to detoxify heroin.

Hartshorn does not prescribe methadone to its patients. It could be extremely harmful to those who do not have a prescription, Hardes said.

"It can cause respiratory depression; if someone took a big enough dose, they could stop breathing," Hardes said.

Taken with alcohol, as Bertoli did, the effects could be even greater.

"(Taking methadone and alcohol together) would increase effects of both of the drugs," Hardes said.

Hardes said Bertoli's death was the first fatal methadone overdose to his knowledge. He also said he has never heard of someone taking the drug recreationally.

Bertoli was the third CSU student to die this semester. Samantha Spady, a sophomore, died Sept. 5 of acute alcohol poisoning and David Karspeck, a senior, was pronounced dead on Nov. 24 after drowning in the Student Recreation Center pool. While alcohol was not involved in Karspeck's death, it has been a factor in the deaths of five Colorado students this school year.

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