Men fight for lives after drinking session goes wrong

By Ilia L. Likou ,

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Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital.

Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

Two young men are in a critical condition at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in what is believed to be a case of “methane poisoning.”

As of press time last night, one of them remained in a coma. He has been in a coma since Sunday when he was admitted. 

The other victim has awoken from a coma but his condition remains serious, according to officials at the hospital.

It was not possible to get an official comment from the Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri. He told the Samoa Observer he was tied up with a presentation he had to make yesterday.

But the Samoa Observer can confirm that the victims are Richard Sale and Jackson Fa’avae from the villages of Le’auva’a and Tuana’i.

Richard’s mother, Pua Sale, said the families are devastated and they are praying for the best.

She said they are trying to find out what happened and what led to her son’s hospitalisation.

“We’re not so sure of their whereabouts on Saturday afternoon,” she said.

“We heard that my son and Jackson were drinking on the other side of the village. Later that day, Jackson was taken to the hospital while Richard was taken in on Sunday morning.”

The mother said the incident was extremely scary.

 “When we tried to wake him (Richard) up on Sunday morning, he was just lying on his bed,” she said. “He showed no signs of movement and that’s when we took him to the hospital.”

When the Samoa Observer spoke to Pua, she said her son was still 

“unconscious” and is “in very critical condition.”

“We can only pray,” she said.

“Jackson is in Acute 8 and my son is in I.C.U. We’re suspecting methanol poisoning but the Police are still investigating the matter.”

Another family member said the boys work for a local water company.

He claims that the young men were given a “bottle” by one someone who works for one of the local bars prior to the incident.

He added that he was not sure if the men had used something else to mix their drinks.

Methanol is highly toxic and consumption of it can cause kidney failure, blindness and death.

Methanol is contained in solvents, antifreeze and windscreen wash. It is also called methyl alcohol, carbinol, wood alcohol or wood spirit.

“People who drink methanol may initially have symptoms such as loss of balance, staggering, slurred speech or eye tremors. 

“There may be a gap of 12 -24 hours before symptoms of methanol poisoning develop.

“These can include headache, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and rapid breathing. In severe cases, convulsions and coma can develop.”

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