Local family has warning after son dies studying abroad

Local family has warning after son dies studying abroad

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - For one family in Salisbury, the loss of their son is prompting them to speak out in hopes of saving someone else from suffering through something similar.

Eric and Crystal Turney lost their son, Ryan, last month after he passed away in Vietnam. Ryan was a senior at UNC Wilmington and was studying abroad in Thailand.

“He was living his best life. He was so happy. He really was,” said Crystal Turney, Ryan’s mother.

“His thing was travel and making friends,” said Ryan’s father, Eric.

Ryan loved to travel. He had visited 48 states and 5 continents. His travels had taken him everywhere from Iceland to Australia to China. When he was 10, he visited the Galapagos Islands with his grandfather.

“When he got back he said, 'Where to next?,” Crystal explained

Last month, 21-year-old Ryan was in Vietnam visiting friends. The group went out for some drinks and that is when everything changed. Ryan began not feeling well and several hours later he died.

“He went to the restroom by himself and collapsed. They tried to revive him and that was it,” said Crystal.

Ryan’s parent’s say doctors believe it was methanol poisoning in a drink their son had.

According to the Methanol Institute, it is often deliberately and illegally added to alcoholic beverages as a cheaper alternative to ethanol (normal alcohol that can be consumed) in countries where regulations are not as stiff.

It is not very common in the U.S. but it is an issue in places like Mexico and Asia.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulty, blurred vision, and seizures.

To learn more about methanol poisoning click here.

“Our son was a knowledgeable traveler and he didn’t know about this,” said Eric.

“If he didn’t know, there are a lot of other people that don’t know,” said Crystal. “We want the message to be, ‘not to stop drinking or not to stop traveling. Just be aware. And if you think, or you do not feel well, that you know these symptoms.’”

The family says they are still grieving but support from friends and family is helping them get through each day.

“There are no regrets. I have none. Who can say that as a parent? He knew I loved him and I know he loved me,” said Crystal. “He was everything that you want. Each one of these grey hairs came from him.”

Eric says even though they are grieving, they are working on a way to honor their son and to continue to raise awareness of this danger.

“I find myself thinking about where he would be in 10 years. It doesn’t do a lot of good because it is not going to happen,” Eric said. “We are still grieving but we will get the job done. This isn’t about us. This is about awareness.”

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