HSE issues drugs warning after death of boy (16) in Cork

Teenager found unresponsive at his home in Deermount in Cork city on Monday morning

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has issued a public health warning about a synthetic drug which gardaí believe was responsible for the death of a 16-year-old boy in Cork City on Monday.

Detectives investigating the death of Michael Cornacchia from a suspected drugs overdose at his home at Deermount in Deerpark on the city’s south side have also arrested a teenager in connection with the matter.

The individual was being questioned at Bridewell Garda Station on Tuesday after gardaí sought to trace where Mr Cornacchia may have obtained the drug.

The alarm was raised at about 10.30am on Monday when the teenager’s mother was unable to wake him.


The emergency services were called to the scene but attempts by paramedics to resuscitate the teenager were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor.


Gardaí who attended the two storey terraced house carried out a search and found traces of a white powder which was sent to the Forensic Science Lab for analysis.

The tests confirmed that the powder was a synthetic drug called U-47700 which has already been blamed for dozen of deaths in the US, including that of singer Prince last year.

Mr Cornacchia’s body was removed to Cork University Hospital where Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster was due to carry out a post-mortem.

While it could take several weeks for toxicology tests to confirm the exact cause of death, detectives believe the boy died as a result of taking the drug.

The HSE issued a warning on Tuesday to all drug users about the substance, which it said may be in circulation in Cork and being sold in the form of white powder as cocaine.

“All drug users are advised that there is no guarantee that the drug you think you are buying and consuming is in fact the drug you are sold,” it said in a statement.

“We are aware that substances sold as cocaine may in fact contain other substances such as synthetic opioids. There is no way of telling what is in a powder or pill just by looking at it.

“It may look like the drug you want to purchase but it may well be something else. There is no quality control on illegal drugs. There can be problems with purity and contaminants in all illegal drugs.”

The HSE also advised those taking drugs not to mix them with alcohol or other drugs as they can interact dangerously with each other. To those who insist on taking drugs, it urged them to take smaller amounts if unsure of the source.

“Always have a friend with you who can call the emergency services for help if you get into difficulty and call for help as soon as possible.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist