Drugs Kill 2 Temple Students in Less Than a Week, Medical Examiner Says - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Drugs Kill 2 Temple Students in Less Than a Week, Medical Examiner Says

Michael Paytas, 24, and James Orlando, 20, died within 5 days of each other.

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    NBC10's Mitch Blacher is talking with a Temple University professor after two students died from drugs in the past week.

    (Published Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017)

    Drugs are being blamed for the sudden deaths of two Temple University business school students who died within a week of each other.

    The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday that both 24-year-old Michael Paytas and 20-year-old James Orlando died from accidental drug intoxication. The office said it will not release the type of drug found in each man's system. They also did not say if there is any connection between the deaths.

    Paytas, a fourth-year marketing major, died Nov. 27 after being found unresponsive at Temple’s Paley Library. Orlando, a third-year student, was found dead in his off-campus apartment Saturday morning.

    Foul play isn't suspected in either case, police said.

    Philadelphia police had no further information about either man's death.

    Temple says it's grieving the deaths of the students. The university offered students counseling support at Tuttleman Counseling Services.

    "These tragedies have affected us all, and we send our deepest sympathies to their families, friends and fellow students. All of us in the Temple family feel the weight of these losses, and we keep their families and other loved ones in our thoughts and our prayers," the university said in a statement.

    Temple urged students, faculty and staff to look out for each other, especially during the "anxiety-inducing" end of the semester. 

    Jillian Bauer-Reese, a Temple University professor who struggled with substance abuse and is five years sober, told NBC10 drug and alcohol abuse has been an ongoing problem she's seen in her classroom.

    "I mean I felt heartbroken for their families but I was not surprised," she said. "As a faculty member, I absolutely see substance use every semester in my students."

    According to data from 2015, police made 12 drug arrests on and off Temple University's campus and issued 80 drug abuse violations.

    "I've had students get out of rehab and then return back to school and then go back to using and nod out in my class," Bauer-Reese said.

    Drug awareness studies show that as abuse rises, so does treatment, which is what Bauer-Reese is hoping for.

    "There's not really a communication strategy on Temple's part for what needs to happen when we encounter students who are in these situations," she said.

    Officials continue to investigate the students' deaths.

    (L to R), Michael Paytas, James Orlando