Local News

Autopsy: UNC student's death was accident

Posted May 8, 2013

Old Well, landmark at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

— A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student who was found dead in his off-campus apartment in February died from inhaling a lethal amount of a chemical used in aerosol cans, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday.

Stedman Gage, 22, of Wilmington, was the son of former UNC Board of Governors Chairwoman Hannah Gage. His death was ruled an accident.

The autopsy found Stedman Gage had a toxic level of 1,1-difluoroethane, which is used as a propellant in aerosol cans. Low levels of narcotics also were found in his system.

Investigators said his friends called police after they found him lying face down in his bed on Feb. 22. The friends said they had been trying to get in touch with him before going to his apartment at 407 W. Patterson Place in Chapel Hill.

Stedman Gage was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at UNC-Chapel Hill


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  • pja1357 May 9, 2013

    Where does it say his fellow students knew he was into these drugs?

  • NCSU84 May 9, 2013

    Sad part is, his fellow students knew he was into these drugs and such and appears did nothing to stop it. Drugs will cause problems for some kids when they have the freedon at college.

  • anneonymousone May 9, 2013

    McLovin, I think that Mernst's interpretation of the finding is correct; the young man may have been deliberately abusing inhalants, but the death was an accidental (no matter how sadly predictable) effect of that action.

    Obamacare survives, lots of people who use drugs (whether legal or not, and whether liquid, solid, or gaseous). Some are smart, some are not. Lots of people do not use drugs. Some are smart, some are not. Either way, this young man is survived by friends and family, and your comment reads as being unnecessarily unkind.

    May more widespread knowledge of this method of getting high prevent more deaths from occuring this way.

  • yankee1 May 9, 2013

    Sounded like he was a pretty smart kid.... Obamacare survives

    Guess it depends on what you consider smart!

  • lovetheheels May 9, 2013

    McLovin, you are exactly right...just ask your police officers. All you have to do is look around the woods or back alleys of any supermarket, WalMart, etc. to find whipped cream cans - full of cream, but emptied of their gas propellant. Our police chief told me about it...

  • mernst May 9, 2013

    it was "accidental" death due to inhalant abuse. probably from the compressed air can spray. very sad unfortunate for this family!

  • McLovin May 8, 2013

    accident??? Sounds like he was deliberately inhaling (which is common amongst youngsters) the areosol cans...sad to see that happen

  • Relic May 8, 2013

    "Huffing". Fortunately you don't hear much of that anymore.