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Heroin caused Grapevine deaths, medical examiner says

GRAPEVINE -- Two teens died earlier this month from overdoses involving heroin, according to toxicology results released by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

Police said both cases remain under investigation, but there is no apparent connection between the 18-year-old men, neither of whom lived in Grapevine but who died in the city just two days apart.

"These two young men's tragic deaths were unforeseen," said Sgt. Kim Smith, a Grapevine police spokeswoman.

Police haven't seen any increase in heroin arrests or other evidence that there is a problem in the city, she said.

"We have a very proactive approach to education and deterrents," she said. "We have a great community that lets us know when there’s something unusual that goes on."

On Aug. 7, Christopher Hackler of Euless was found unresponsive on a couch in a friend's apartment in the 2400 block of Timberline Drive. He died from a cocaine and heroin overdose, said Roger Metcalf, a spokesman for the medical examiner's office.

Hackler had battled drug addiction for about five years and had recently completed a year-long treatment program at the In Balance Ranch in Arizona, his parents said. He wanted to become a drug counselor to help other young people with addiction, but he struggled to find a recovery support network after returning to Texas, family members said. In the weeks before his death, Hackler had been considering returning to Arizona to live in a transitional program run by the In Balance Ranch.

"We are just so shocked and saddened that something like this could happen to Christopher when he was so optimistic about life and his future," his mother, Kim Hackler, said. "It shows that addiction is bigger than any amount of love and caring that can be provided."

On Aug. 9, Brandon Mason of Irving died at a hospital after he was found unresponsive in his grandmother's apartment in the 2100 block of Grayson Drive. He died from a heroin overdose, Metcalf said.

Mason hadn't shown any signs of heroin use, his mother said Thursday. He had been an avid athlete and worked at Target in Grapevine.

Toxicology tests for a Euless 15-year-old were inconclusive, Metcalf said. Brandon Palmer died July 28 after being out all night with friends, police have said. The cause of death is listed as "sudden adolescent death with history of ingestion of gamma hydroxybutyrate," or GHB.

In low doses, GHB's effects include euphoria, drowsiness and visual hallucinations. It has been popular as a club drug but is also known as the "date-rape drug" because it can cause unconsciousness and loss of memory.

This report include material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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