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Twenty-one-year-old Brandon Vedas' obituary said, "Whether online or in person, Brandon had his own unique way of doing things."

Many of Brandon's online friends knew him as "ripper."

Others now know of him as the Phoenix resident who died Jan. 12 after overdosing on drugs in front of those who watched on Brandon's Web cam.

Some looked in horror, urging him to stop; others goaded him on.

Brandon's family acknowledges that he had problems with drugs, and his fatal overdose involved a potpourri of pharmaceuticals including Klonopin and methadone.

A transcript of the online conversation, conducted by Internet Relay Chat, is chilling.

Here are some excerpts, as ripper responded to the dares of some of his online cohorts to ingest more drugs:

After ripper shares the names and amounts of drugs he has just taken, "Smoke2k" says: "Eat more ... that's not much," and about seven minutes later adds: "I wanna see if you survive or you just black out."

"I bet ripper will just pass out and forget it all," says "@phalaris.";

"That's a lot of downers," says "Oea," adding, "You'd better not go to sleep ... breathe."

Ripper responds by asking, "How many people are watching this non=sense" (sic)

Oea asks: "Do you want to die or what?" and ripper answers "Nah ... it's safe ... I know what I'm doing."

But Brandon Vedas didn't know what he was doing.

"Call if I look dead," he told those participating in the chat.

Some did try to call. A phone number he'd given in order to sign up for the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel turned out to be a fake.

Much of the rest of the transcript shows the chat participants' confusion, panic, and in some cases, drug-addled states, arguing over who would get ownership of ripper's drugs if he died.

Other participants tried to hunt down background information on ripper's Web site, to find the city where he lived so they could alert emergency services.

Smoke2k divulged he knew ripper lived in Phoenix, but told someone else to make the call ("Yall make it ... good night").

The call apparently was never made.

The conversation itself, conducted through IRC, is different from the kind of online chatting with which many of us are familiar.

IRC is a more anonymous way to communicate online. Special software is needed to set it up; and each chat group is known as a "channel," to which individuals can subscribe.

IRCJunkie.org last week featured a short interview with Smoke2k.

"You don't feel guilty like you helped kill him?" asked the questioner.

"You look at the words all day and they're just words," Smoke2k responded. "Then I talked to the guy and he was totally like, zoned out. Couldn't carry a coherent conversation."

"But you told him to do more and to try and be cool; he did," said the questioner.

"Yeah, but I wasn't alone ... people were watching it, he was egged on to do it. If nobody was watching, he wouldn't have done it, or if he had, nobody would know or care."

'Wise counsel'

The Vedas family has set up a Web site dedicated to Brandon, http://www.brandonvedas.com

On the site, Brandon's brother, Rich Vedas, says that what happened to his brother is "a reminder that whether in person or online, we as humankind are given the task of looking out for those we care about."

"While each person will ultimately make their own decisions in life, we all need wise counsel and love to help guide us in the right direction.

"My hope is that maybe someone reading this will recognize a Brandon in their life, and make an effort to help before it's too late."

Suzanne Choney: (619) 293-2226; suzanne.choney@uniontrib.com

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
bleedingheart
Feb. 26th, 2003 04:45 am (UTC)
I heard about that
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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