The family of a teenager found dead in a river after taking a drug known as an ‘n-bomb’ have spoken out to warn of the dangers of ‘legal highs.’
Tragic student Nathan Wood, 16, described by his mum as a sociable” and loving son, is believed to have drowned after taking a powerful hallucinogenic.
His family have revealed he became freaked out after fearing he would be “sacrificed” then stripped off his clothes and ran off in a distressed and panicked state.
He was ‘distressed’ when he was last seen alive near the River Dart in Totnes, Devon, on Friday evening.
His body was pulled from the river by police divers around midday on Sunday.
His grieving family say he had been socialising with friends and at some point had taken a ‘new psychoactive substance’ – legal high – that has been likened to LSD.
Nathan’s mother Mandi Retter, 47, of Compton, near Totnes, said she wanted to issue the warning as she didn’t want any other young lives lost so needlessly.
She said: “Legal highs are horrendous.
“How would other kids feel if this was their brother? They should be avoided like the plague.”
Mandi, a healthcare assistant, says police told her that her son had taken the drug while with friends but she doesn’t know which group he was with at the time.
She added: “One guy started going on about sacrificing a female friend. Then he was getting really freaked out and scared that they were going to sacrifice him.
“He was just going nuts and apparently shouting people’s names – feeling like he had to run away.
“Sometime during that episode he thought he had to take his clothes off and I don’t know why.
“He was apparently heading back on the towpath and his friend saw him and was a bit scared by his behaviour and one of them reported it sometime later.”
After being told her son’s body had been found, Mandi added: “It’s almost like you want other families to feel that pain for a split second.
“Or the kids, so they know what it feels like to be on the receiving end.
“It’s screwed up our lives forever – nothing’s ever going to be the same again.
“All those plans we had have now gone.”
Mandi said she had not seen her son since Thursday morning.
She added: “He had had a shower and had breakfast and he said he was going to stay at a friend’s house. I went to bed because I had worked nights.
“Thursday evening I spoke to him and he said he was at his friend’s. I was going to bring him home on Saturday.
“On Friday he was out – I was a bit a bit confused because I’ve heard there were two friendship groups and he was with one and then another.
“I’m not clear which group he was with when he took whatever he took.”
Mandi described her son as having a bright future – one that she has now been ripped away.
She added: “He wanted to live a nice, tranquil life.
“He liked hanging out with his mates, he loved his girlfriend and planned to stay with her and have kids so she’s in bits now as she sees her life as being completely different to what she imagined.
“I remember having a conversation with him a year and a half ago and he said that you can walk up to anyone in Totnes and get anything.
“He had gotten onto a college course to do adventure sports, he was really looking forward to it.
Nathan’s grandmother, Margaret Retter, 70, said: “The last time I saw him it was just wonderful.
“I was coming up the path last weekend and he just leaned out the bedroom window shouting ‘hi grandma’, I’ll be down in a minute.
“It’s the last memory I have of him.
“He was just full of life and loving, it was a lovely memory.”
She added that she had heard that the school Nathan attended, King Edward VI Community College, was “riddled” with legal highs.
Nathan is said to have entered the water in the river around 6.30pm on Friday.
The teenager – also described as “quite a joker” and a “big character” – was also into basketball.
He was due to go to college in September to do an adventure sports course.
Nathan leaves two brothers Daniel, 26, and Shane, 25, who also spoke of the dangers of the drugs he had been introduced to.
Daniel, a mechanic, said: “He did love people so much. He couldn’t express it enough.
“Everyone that knew him thought he was funny.
“It could easily happen to anyone who takes them [legal highs].
“Absolutely it has ruined our family. We are all distraught.
“Anyone thinking about taking them – I would say you should think how their family would feel if you were to die.
“Or your brother or your sister – think about how it would affect you.”
Grandfather Michael, 72, added: “Everybody should learn from it.”
The drug Nathan is believed to have taken is a psychoactive substance designed to replicate the effects of illegal substances – although little is known about the harm they can do as they are often alien to pharmacologists.
Nathan’s girlfriend, Markita Jennians, 16, said: “We were both friends for a long time.
“Even before we went out everyone was telling us we should be together.”