Racing Fuel-Soft Drink Mix Proves Fatal

"Dewshine" a homemade brew made of a soft drink and racing fuel killed two Tennessee teens. The CDC describes the investigation into the incident and its aftermath as part of a report on risky adolescent behavior.

As part of report on risky behavior in adolescents, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today said two Tennessee teens died because they drank a toxic mix of soda and methanol or, as the CDC described it “racing fuel.”

A colorless, toxic, flammable liquid, methanol is also used as a general solvent and as antifreeze.

According to reports in The Tennessean the incident happened in January when the teens consumed a concoction dubbed “dewshine,” a combination of the soft drink Mountain Dew and the fuel, one that is used in drag racing.

The CDC said investigations by Tennessee authorities showed one of the teens found a bottle of methanol in his garage and that “unknown quantities of racing fuel and the carbonated soft drink were subsequently mixed in a 2 liter bottle and consumed at a party, presumably as a substitute for ethyl alcohol.

Two other adolescents also drank the mixture, but consumed a small enough amount that they survived.

The boys who died were both 16 years old. One was found dead 11 hours after leaving the party, the other had seizures 12 hours after consuming the drink and despite aggressive treatment at a local hospital he died five days later.

The CDC report noted that as little as a tablespoon of methanol can be fatal. It is metabolized to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which “accumulates in the optic nerve and optic disc and is highly cytotoxic.”

Investigators said the surviving adolescents told them that one of the teens who died “learned of the mixture on a trip to Kansas one month earlier.”

Tennessee health officials have launched a public awareness campaign and have said the poisoning appears to be an isolated incident.