CENTREVILLE, Va. - The family of a Fairfax County high school student who was found dead inside her home Tuesday morning is denying the 17-year-old died of a heroin overdose. It is a claim initially made in a county press release and confirmed by police.
However, one day later, Fairfax County police are backing off that claim and said investigators are not sure what drugs Alexia Springer may have taken.
Outside the Centreville home the 17-year-old shared with her family, her sister said Alexia died of an accidental drug overdose and was not using heroin.
She said the junior student who attended Centreville High School did not use the drug and the police were wrong to say she did.
According to a spokesperson for Fairfax Fire and Rescue, at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, a caller to 911 said a female at the house was unconscious and not breathing. When police and paramedics arrived, they found no signs of life.
However, police say investigators did find evidence of drug use.
"Detectives believe her death was related to drug-related complication,” said Fairfax County Police Office Tawny Wright. “Detectives have collected a sample of it and they have sent it off to be examined. Once the toxicology lab results come back in, we will be able to confirm exactly what type of substance it was and if it actually had anything to do with her death.”
But on Wednesday, a press release from the county government said without naming her, the teenager’s death was likely the result of using heroin.
"I'm not sure exactly where there was a miscommunication,” said Officer Wright. “I suppose it is suspected that it could be some kind of opiate drug, but that is beyond our purview to state. We have to wait for the lab toxicology results to come back before we know exactly what it is.”
At Centreville High School on Wednesday, friends of Alexia Springer gathered to remember her and tied balloons to some benches that were later released.
"Alexia was one of the most selfless people you will ever meet,” said senior student John Massa. “She was kindhearted, she was sweet, she was actively involved, she was a Homecoming princess, she played sports, she had more friends than anyone in the school. Even if you didn't know her personally, you knew of her.”
Massa, a friend of the family, said Alexia may have died from a drug overdose, but it wasn't heroin.
"She didn't use heroin,” he said. “She wasn't a heroin user. In fact, she really didn’t abuse drugs at all. She made a mistake, and unfortunately, she did pay the price and we all grieve and mourn the loss of her.”
The federal government now says more people die from drug overdoses than in car crashes.
In Fairfax County, the government is trying to stay on top of a heroin problem, which they say the county does have. The number of deaths from heroin overdoses in the county has doubled between 2013 and 2014 and Fire and Rescue has responded to 291 suspected heroin overdoses across the county between 2011 and 2014.