Teen admits to ordering U-47700 that killed Park City boys
In emotional hearing, he says, ‘Sorry will never be enough’
In an emotional and at-times contentious court hearing Friday, a 16-year-old boy admitted to purchasing the drug U-47700 online that eventually made its way into the hands of two 13-year-old Park City boys who died of overdoses in September.
The teen, facing two misdemeanor charges and one second-degree felony, made the admission as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. In exchange for pleading guilty to a Class A misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment and a misdemeanor contempt charge from a prior incident involving possession of drugs, prosecutors dropped a felony count of distributing a controlled or counterfeit substance.
Judge Elizabeth Knight sentenced the teen, who has spent the last several months in an inpatient treatment center, to probation that includes internet restrictions, 80 hours of community service and a $175 fine. Knight also ordered that the Park City Police Department release its reports involving the case, something the parents of the 13-year-old boys lobbied for after what they described as several failed attempts to get the records.
The charges stem from the investigations into the September deaths of Ryan Ainsworth and Grant Seaver, best friends and students at Treasure Mountain Junior High School, who were found dead in their homes less than 48 hours apart. Police later determined they had died from taking U-47700, a synthetic opioid commonly called “pink.”
On Friday, the teen said in court that he ordered U-47700 online in order to feed a drug addiction. When he tried the drug, it made him severely ill, but said the opioid still made its way into the possession of Seaver and Ainsworth. The teen denied, however, that the boys got the drug directly from him.
With the parents of Ainsworth and Seaver in attendance, the teen also expressed remorse for his actions, acknowledging they ultimately led to the deaths of the 13-year-old boys. He said he now realizes how dangerous buying the drug was, and that he’s sorry for the pain he’s caused the families of Seaver and Ainsworth.
“Sorry will never be enough,” he said, appearing solemn but with little visible emotion.
The parents of Seaver and Ainsworth also addressed the court. The statement from Jim Seaver, Grant’s father, was particularly heated, with defense attorney Tara Isaacson objecting several times as he accused the teen of not being forthcoming with police in the immediate aftermath of the deaths. He claimed that led to police officers harshly questioning his other son, a 16-year-old, about his potential involvement.
Jim Seaver also questioned the teen’s claim that the 13-year-olds did not get U-47700 directly from him, and made several allegations about the teen’s history with drugs that at one point prompted an outcry from the teen’s mother in the gallery.
Toward the end of his statement, Jim Seaver said he was frustrated with the sentence Knight ultimately handed down, given the teen’s knowledge of the danger of U-47700.
“To me, when I do that calculation, that’s one week of service for each dead kid,” he said. “To me, that doesn’t seem possible.”
Grant Seaver’s mother, Debra Seaver, also addressed the court. In addition to urging Knight to require the Park City Police Department to release police reports about the case, she also spoke about the promise her son’s life once held.
“Whatever he would have amounted to, nobody knows. But he had so much potential,” she said.
Gillian Ainsworth, the mother of Ryan Ainsworth, told the court that the pain of her son’s death is sometimes intolerable. But she wished for the 16-year-old teen to find peace with what’s happened and to turn the tragedy into a positive for his life.
“You’re a troubled boy who made some very poor choices with dire consequences,” she said. “We have lost two bright 13-year-old boys to this tragedy. Let’s not make it a third.”
Knight echoed that sentiment before levying the sentence. She acknowledged the punishment would do little to take away Jim Seaver’s anger, but called the situation the result of a decision the 16-year-old made with the underdeveloped brain of a teenager that will follow him throughout his life.
“I hope you are getting the help you need because that’s a lot of weight on your shoulders,” she said to the teen.
While the case is resolved, the teen is scheduled to appear in court again, on May 5, for an update on his treatment.
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There was a common theme in every address delivered during the Park City High School Class of 2021 graduation ceremony Thursday: gratitude.