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Psychedelic Mushrooms Linked to Another Student's Death

By Murray Weiss | January 30, 2014 7:31am
 Isaiah O'Kane was hit by a train while high on mushroom, sources said.
Isaiah O'Kane was hit by a train while high on mushroom, sources said.
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MANHATTAN — The New York University freshman who fell to his death after taking psychedelic mushrooms is the second city student in two months to die after ingesting the hallucinogenic, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Isaiah O’Kane, an 18-year-old at Hunter College, fell between the cars of a 6 train at East 59th Street and Lexington Avenue on Dec. 7 while high on mushrooms, law enforcement sources said.

According to the sources, O’Kane, a gifted literary and theater student who wrote poetry, had swallowed the hallucinogenic mushrooms with his girlfriend while they were in Central Park.

His girlfriend told police that after he started tripping, O'Kane suddenly ran out of the park, tweeted a few messages to her and then ran down into the subway and boarded a southbound 6 train about 4 p.m., sources said.

As the train headed toward the 51st Street station, O’Kane was standing between cars and accidentally toppled onto the tracks, witnesses told police.

Paramedics arrived within minutes and removed O’Kane from the track bed. Officials said the freshman had lost several toes on a foot and apparently had broken bones. He was rushed to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he died the following day, police said.

The exact cause of his death has yet to be determined, according to a spokesman for the Medical Examiner’s office.

Attempts DNAinfo New York made to reach O'Kane's family were unsuccessful.

On Monday, Titan Lee-Hai, a promising 18-year-old freshman at NYU, stripped naked and fell from the roof of his school's 15-story Third Avenue residence after taking mushrooms with his roommate, police and sources said.

 A photo of Titan Lee-Hai from his Facebook profile.
A photo of Titan Lee-Hai from his Facebook profile.
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Following O'Kane's death, several friends posted remembrances of a young man they described as a sensitive, sharp-witted writer and actor.

On Hunter College’s Literary and Arts Journal website, Stephanie D’Andrea said O’Kane was “an incredibly gifted poet” who wrote “passionately and unyieldingly” and that his presence was “the light in the room.”   

A stanza from one of his poems said:

At the end of the day

We are just twisted beings

Pretending we have a sense of order,

Even as our little worlds

Fall to pieces.

The teen, who grew up in Clinton Hill, attended the prestigious Beacon High School on the Upper West Side, where he took writing and acting courses, according to the website. His mother is a retired Brooklyn public school teacher.

O'Kane also took summer classes at Pratt while attending Hunter College and was writing a collection of poems that he hoped to publish. 

Although they described the deaths as separate “tragedies,” sources say detectives are probing the source of the mushrooms in both incidents to determine if there are links and if the drugs were tampered with, which could elevate any potential criminal charges.