ASHLAND — When Southern Boone County High School let out at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, an impromptu caravan of cars full of students and teachers drove the mile to Robinson Funeral Home. A long line of friends filled the parking lot as people waited patiently to say goodbye to Cris Crivello, 17, who died Tuesday.
“With a senior class of 102 students, you know everyone,” said Johnny Thompson, principal of Southern Boone County High School, where Crivello was a student for four years. “Everyone feels a loss,” Thompson said.
“I’m having a really hard time dealing with this,” Cris’ father, Denis Crivello, said. “He’s always been a really hard worker who was committed to a lot of things.”
Cris Crivello loved to go four-wheeling, his father said. Earlier this year, the teenager bought a four-wheeler, which was stolen before he was able to finish paying for it.
“We didn’t have any insurance on it, but Cris still made payments on it every month,” Denis Crivello said.
On Tuesday morning, Denis Crivello was unable to wake up his son for school; he called 911 and began life-saving attempts. An ambulance responded, but Cris Crivello was pronounced dead at his home.
A preliminary investigation indicates the cause of death was a drug overdose, said Scott Robbins, Ashland’s chief of police. It will be five or six weeks before a toxicology report can confirm the cause of death.
“There is a trend of kids using prescription medications, such as morphine and Xanax,” Robbins said.
A week ago, one of Cris Crivello’s friends was taken to the hospital after he stopped breathing due to a drug overdose, Robbins said.
“Three of their classmates have spent a couple of days in comas for drug overdoses, too,” Robbins said.
A national study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that in 2001 almost 3 million youths age 12 to 17 had used prescription drugs non-medically at least once. In 2003, in the Midwest approximately 181,000 youths age 12 to 17 had used prescription drugs non-medically.
Thompson said staff at the high school notified students Tuesday morning of Cris Crivello’s death after confirming rumors with Robbins. Teachers read a prepared statement to the students and then the school offered students counseling and time to be together.
Cris Crivello’s senior class started a scholarship fund to go toward his younger sister’s education, a student at Southern Boone County Middle School. The class also intends to make a donation to the fund out of its senior budget and to plant a tree in memory of Cris, Thompson said.
“He was always very friendly and a pretty good student,” Thompson said.
After the service at the funeral home on Wednesday, some students attended a private memorial service for Cris at his house.
“It will take a while just to sort through what happened,” said Susan Gauzy, superintendent of Southern Boone County R-1 School District, “and to heal up over this.”