A post-mortem examination is being carried out today on a
teenager who died after drinking alcohol, including
home-brewed spirits, at an 18th birthday party in south
Auckland on Saturday.
Tyson Devon was in cardiac arrest when emergency services
arrived at the Papakura address about 6.30pm and he died at
The 18-year-old died despite desperate attempts by friends
and paramedics to revive him.
Senior Sergeant Spencer Matthews said the teenagers had
ingested a range of drinks, including home-brewed spirits, at
Tyson "drank far too much in a far too short space of time,
and his body has suffered the effects".
Police wouldn't comment on the cause of death until receiving
the results of the post-mortem examination, but it is
understood methanol poisoning is one possibility.
National Poisons Centre medical toxicologist John Fountain
said methanol poisoning from home-brewed spirits was
relatively rare in New Zealand, but did happen, and could
cause blindness or death.
"The methanol acts very much like ethanol initially; it's an
inebriating compound and you do get a very similar effect
"The difficulty with methanol is it is broken down by the
body into other compounds and those compounds are toxic."
Methanol is produced in the distilling process but removed
when done professionally, Dr Fountain said. One of the most
effective treatments was ingesting ethanol.
"The same enzyme that breaks down the methanol also breaks
down the ethanol, so if you keep that enzyme busy breaking
down the ethanol the methanol can be excreted from the body
before it forms this toxic metabolite. Indeed, I've
recommended to doctors around the country to get a bottle of
Johnnie Walker or something like that."
In June, Taranaki man Denis Duthie went blind after suffering
methanol poisoning while drinking vodka. He regained his
sight only after hospital staff administered expensive
However, people should go straight to hospital if they
suspect methanol poisoning rather than try to treat it
themselves, Dr Fountain said.
Kiwi-born teenager Liam Davies died from methanol poisoning
after drinking a vodka and lime mix on New Year's Day while
holidaying in Indonesia.
- Matthew Theunissen of APNZ