Successful Staten Island high school track star Arielle Newman died from poisoning that occurred from the over-application of topical pain-relieving balms. The 17-year-old was found dead in her bed by her mother the morning after she attended a large party on Staten Island in April, and suspicions initially turned to drugs or alcohol as the cause of her death. An initial autopsy that proved inconclusive only deepend the mystery surrounding the loss of a promising student athlete.
It was also revealed that after cops and firemen broke up the raucous underage event dubbed the "Night of Mayhem", scattering teenagers into the surrounding woods, Newman was separated from her friends and attacked by someone who pushed her face in the mud. The young woman escaped by kicking her attacker in the genitals. Her death shortly thereafter initiated a public discussion about how bored Staten Island teens with nothing to do often turn to drugs and alcohol.
A report released by the city medical examiner yesterday, however, determined that the star runner at Notre Dame Academy actually died from poisoning resulting from the over-application of pain-relieving sports balm. Methyl salicylate is an active ingredient in many topical pain relievers like Ben Gay and Icy Hot. Newman's body absorbed so much of the ingredient through overuse of the balms that it killed her.
The news of the cause of Newman's death has shocked many in the athletic community and many Staten Island coaches are saying that they will no longer allow the use of such balms by their athletes. The Staten Island Advance also examines a culture of competitiveness so intense among high school athletes that they will go to great lengths to play through pain or gain a competitive edge. An area high school girls soccer coach Tony Dimaggio tried to explain the pressure that goes beyond just a will to win: "I think part of it is motivated by the need to get college scholarships, especially since tuition is so high. Everybody is trying to be a top athlete. ... They push themselves more and more to get an edge."