Synthetic marijuana suspected in 19-year-old's drowning death

11:01 PM, Jan 8, 2012   |    comments
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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Logan Kushner's former football coach remembers him as an exceptional student at Palm Harbor University High School.

"He's one of the kids who worked the hardest out of all of them," Mark Haye says. "But he brought a sense of humor with the hard work."

10 News footage from the high school's homecoming in 2010 shows him proudly wearing #7 as a linebacker. He loved football and wrestling, even when one sport kept him from the other.

"He went and wrestled two days before the [final game of the season] and actually separated his shoulder and broke his arm and didn't get to start," Haye remembers. "He was all bummed out, but it was just Logan. He pushed himself to the limit in everything he did."

But early Sunday morning, his life ended suddenly. Investigators say around 2:30 a.m., Kushner was at Kapok Park in Clearwater with a friend. They were smoking synthetic marijuana that they had bought legally at a gas station.

"He went swimming. His friend was a little bit concerned because it was getting near curfew, so his friend convinced him to get out of the water, but he wouldn't leave the park with him," says Joelle Castelli with the City of Clearwater.

That friend tried to reach Kushner over the phone. When that failed, he asked another friend who lives close to the park to check on him.

"That's when the witness found him unresponsive, floating in the water," Castelli says.

Clearwater Police don't suspect foul play in his death, though they do think synthetic marijuana is to blame.

"It's been shown to cause some psychosis," Castelli says. "It's synthetic cannabis, and just because you can buy it at the gas station doesn't mean it's safe."

It became illegal in Florida last summer. Since then, some companies have changed their chemical compounds just enough to have a more powerful, but legal, kind of synthetic marijuana.

"It's just sad to hear something tragic like this happened to a good person like Logan Kushner was," Haye says. "He was a good kid, and he'll be missed."

memorial for Logan Kushner is being held tomorrow at 8 a.m. at Kapok Park.

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