By Tommy Reynolds
Whenever we are faced with unspeakable tragedy in our lives, our natural response is to try to find some purpose or reason for it. We hope that some good can come from our pain. Such is the case with the bereaved family of Noah DeWayne Smith, 17, of Water Valley. He died on September 26.
An artist, musician and dedicated, enthusiastic follower of Christ, Noah worked at Larson’s Piggly Wiggly. He was a senior at Water Valley High School. He had his whole life in front of him. Those who knew him had no doubt that he would make a joyful mark in the world.
Noah died at home. He had taken some “caffeine pills” – possibly in an effort to maintain the energy level necessary to balance his many activities. We will never know. What we do know is that his heart stopped beating. He was gone before anyone knew there was a problem.
Somehow through their fog of grief, Noah’s family rallied together to try to make some good come from their tragedy. They recognized that Noah’s death was caused by his ingesting a substance that he didn’t know could kill him. They know that in his youth, like his peers, he wasn’t thinking about his own vulnerability or the fact that he could die from over-the-counter energy boosters.
Noah’s survivors decided that they needed to do what they could to keep this from happening to any other children. They banded together to create a petition requesting that Noah’s life be memorialized in a law preventing minors from purchasing enhanced caffeine pills. They knew it may be controversial and difficult, but they forged ahead, and by October 6, only 10 days after Noah’s death, they had collected 200 signatures calling for legislative action. They delivered it to my office in Charleston.
As their State Representa-tive, it will be my solemn pleasure to take this effort to our State Capitol in January. In memory and in honor of Noah’s life, I will be filing a bill to require that retail establishments be prevented from selling enhanced caffeine pills to minors. I hope that this effort will create that lasting mark for Noah – saving lives.
The American Associa-tion for Poison Control Centers reported in 2011 that 1,566 in the same age group as Noah were treated for caffeine overdose; one died.
As I am sure Noah’s parents, family and friends can attest, one death from caffeine overdose is one too many. By promoting Noah’s Law, we are working to make sure that our children are exposed to one less opportunity to accidentally hurt themselves.
I offer my sincere sympathy to all of those who have been struggling with the loss of this bright young man, and hope that we will be able to make a difference in his name.