Granite City man hospitalized from bath salt overdose, family says he's expected to die

6:21 PM, Apr 28, 2011   |    comments
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By Kathleen Berger

Granite City, IL (KSDK) - One day after an Alton woman dies from a bath salt overdose, a Granite City family says their son and brother has less than 48 hours to live.

Granite City police are aggressively investigating. Chief Richard Miller says federal authorities have instructed them to investigate all overdose deaths as murder. News of the 28-year-old Tonia Whitehead overdosing in Alton prompted the Granite City family to call NewsChannel 5.

"I was wanting to get the message out of what it can do. Maybe we can save some other kid," said Patrick Kane.

Kane and his family have spent the last two days at St. Louis University Hospital. Their son and brother, 26-year-old Jeff Hodge, overdosed on bath salts.

"He's probably going to live 24 to 48 hours, and the best solution is he'll never wake up," Kane said.

Amanda Hodge says her brother had problems with meth more than a year ago, but says he had been clean. Then he called her on Easter.

"And he told me he messed up, that he did bath salt," Amanda said.

Two days later, Granite City police received a disturbance call about Hodge, going house to house, yelling, paranoid that someone's after him.

"To get him handcuffed it took four to five officers," said Granite City Police Chief Richard Miller.

Similar to another bath salt case they had recently.

"They both been violent, super strong, taking numerous officers to control them," Miller said.

Miller says the effects of inhaling the designer synthetic drug, marketed as bath salts, are like PCP and cocaine combined.

Last month, police confiscated bath salts being sold at a Granite City convenience store. One gram sold for $40. Then last week, the Granite City City Council voted to ban bath salts. That law does not take effect until July, but police say the store or person who provided the bath salts to Jeff Hodge will face charges.

"The same statutes, state and federal would come into play, that I provided you something that was harmful, a harmful material that caused your death or injury," Miller said.

Hodge's family believes he didn't know he could die.

"He didn't know. Maybe somebody else knew, but he didn't know. It was a surprise for him," said Kane.

Madison County authorities say if doctors are right and Jeff Hodge dies from a bath salt overdose, this will be the county's second death from this designer drug and just days apart. Even though some cities have laws banning bath salts, there are stores are selling this to anyone of any age, kids included.

KSDK

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