Irma Perez's Story
Irma was a 14 year old girl from Belmont , California who took an Ecstasy pill on April 23, 2004. She became sick immediately---vomiting and writhing in pain---yet her friends did not seek medical help for her. Instead, they gave her marijuana, thinking it would relax her and possibly help her because they had heard it had medicinal qualities. Irma suffered for hours and when she was finally taken to the hospital the next morning, she was in terrible shape. Five days later she was taken off life support and died. After her death, several of her organs were donated to five other people.
How did Irma actually die? Dr. Leslie Avery and Dr. Peter Benson, a forensic medical expert, say that Irma's brain swelled from a lack of oxygen. "Her cerebellum dissolved as her brain tried to escape its confined space," Benson said. (quoted in the San Mateo Daily Journal article "Teen's Torment Revealed" by Michele Durand, September 2, 2004).
Irma's friends and family are still grieving and her classmates at Ralston Middle school poured out their emotions in memorials and their yearbook. Irma would have graduated in June.
The tragedy does not end with Irma. Because a number of her so-called “friends" were involved in Irma's death, they were arrested and put on trial. So was the dealer who supplied the Ecstasy. Five people in all were charged and are fulfilling their sentences.
Two eighth grade girls pleaded guilty to two felonies -furnishing a minor with a controlled substance and cruelty to a child likely to cause harm or death. The judge demanded that they cooperate with the DA's office during the other prosecutions related to Irma's death, attend an 8 month rehabilitation program known as GIRLS, write a ten page essay on the dangers of Ecstasy and send a letter of apology to the Perez family.
A 20 year old man, Anthony Rivera, admitted that he provided the Ecstasy to Irma's friends. He received a sentence of five years in the California Department of Corrections. He ran a junior high drug ring and sold the Ecstasy to a 17 year old dealer, who then sold them to Irma's friends.
Calin Fintzi, 17 at the time of Irma's death, sold Rivera's Ecstasy pills to Irma's friends. He and two friends arrived at the home where Irma and her friends had taken the Ecstasy and stayed between 2:30 and 5:00 a.m. He gave Irma water and marijuana to help her get through her "bad trip."
Angelique Malabey, 18, was sentenced to six months in jail for helping Rivera hide his drugs after Irma died.
Irma's sister, Imelda, is speaking out about the terrible suffering her sister went through. She wants to educate other teens about the dangers of Ecstasy --- and the dangers of doing nothing to help a friend in need.
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