Father believes son may still be alive if friends had called 911

Published: Friday, Sept. 13 2013 3:36 p.m. MDT

Ryan Palmer believes his son, Jeremy Palmer, would still be alive today if his friends had called 911 when he started having health problems after taking some drugs and inhaling canned air.

Palmer Family

STERLING, Sanpete County — Ryan Palmer believes his son would still be alive had his friends called for help when he was in trouble.

The 20-year-old overdosed on drugs, and police say his friends then dumped his body. Prosecutors are now considering potential charges against the friends.

Jeremy Palmer struggled with addiction his senior year in high school and began a downward spiral two months ago. "It went from prescription drugs and alcohol to hard drugs, such as meth, cocaine, heroin,” his father said.

Palmer was arrested last month, and his father hoped he would finally turn his life around.

"I had told Jeremy that we're at that crossroads, and we are going to have to prepare ourselves to visit you in prison and/or attend your funeral,” Palmer said.

On Aug. 26, Palmer and Brandie McClain, 35, called one of Palmer's friends and offered to fill up his gas tank if he drove them to West Jordan to buy drugs, Sanpete County sheriff's deputies reported.

At a West Jordan home, Palmer took 300 mg of morphine and later inhaled canned air, according to an arrest warrant.

While driving home near Thistle, police say he became incoherent and his friends stopped next to a stream and poured cold water on him. They kept driving south, passing a hospital, eventually arriving at McClain's Manti home, 268 E. 200 South, where a friend told police Palmer’s lips were blue. They put him in the bathtub and filled it with ice.

One friend told police that "several times throughout the night, he tried to get Brandie to call the ambulance but Brandie said no," a court document states.

At 6 a.m. the next day, the friends — including a 14-year-old boy — dropped off his body in the driveway of an acquaintance's house, the warrant states.

"When Jeremy was at his worst, and they had three or four hours to help him, they ended up letting him pass away and they dumped him like garbage on the side of the road,” his father said.

Jeremy Palmer’s death is still being investigated. Prosecutors are waiting for the results of the autopsy to determine if criminal charges will be filed against his friends.

McClain was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony; causing or permitting a child or vulnerable adult to be exposed to controlled substances, a third-degree felony; obstructing justice, a third-degree felony; two counts of possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

She was released from the Sanpete County Jail earlier this week after posting bond.

Palmer is now buried at the Sterling Cemetery beneath the flag poles he restored for his Eagle Scout project. His family hopes his story will be a lesson to others who abuse drugs that addiction can not only destroy a life, but ultimately take it.

"Nobody picked up the phone and dialed 911,” Ryan Palmer said. “That's what makes me sad because if they had intervened, we would have still had our boy. We would still have an addiction to deal with … but he would have had a second chance at it.”

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com

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