A San Diego teenager — while under the influence of a hallucinogenic plant — ran through a window, fell 60 feet to the parking lot below and, remarkably, lived to share his story and caution others.
“I thought it would be a good idea to experience something otherworldly,” 19-year-old Sam Taylor said explaining why he chose to smoke salvia, a legal, hallucinogenic plant available at most smoke shops.
“They said I had a 15% chance of survival when I came in [to the hospital],” Taylor said.
He beat those odds and survived broken feet, several broken ribs, and a broken pelvis, right wrist and sternum. He has 62 pieces of hardware holding his body together.
Salvia “trips” don’t last as long as LSD, but they’re more intense.
This is what Taylor remembers about the sensation.
‘The room got black and I looked up at my friend’s face and it looked like it was melting,” he said.
He doesn’t remember what happened next, but security cameras inside a Salt Lake City hotel captured Taylor jetting out of a fifth-floor room, racing around a corner as his “trip sitter,” a designated sober person meant to care for Taylor, chases behind. Running down a hallway that dead-ends to a large window, Taylor never stopped.
You can see the spray of shattered glass clouds Taylor as he exits the right edge of the frame into a free fall.
Medical professionals say there has been a resurgence in salvia’s popularity, as well as in other psychedelics. It is a statistic that runs parallel with the increase in depression among young people, especially young girls.
As an emergency room psychologist, Dr. Willough Jenkins sees the effects of such drugs daily at Rady Children’s Hospital.
She said salvia is often mistaken for a cannabis strain because it’s not illegal, it grows in California and it can be purchased online or in smoke shops.
“It creates such intense dissociation, meaning losing touch with reality,” Dr. Jenkins said. ”This is not safe. Because it is not as regulated does not mean it is safe and the actual experience is incredibly unpleasant.”
That is the lesson Taylor and his family learned in the hardest way.
“I had been doing psychedelics for five years. I’ve tripped over 100 times in my life. Salvia is my last trip ever,” Taylor said.
What his future looks like now is a struggle. He accepts is it and still sees hope.
“There was a point not too long ago where I thought I would never walk again. So to even be walking around today with a cane, it feels really good,” he said.
Taylor’s mother Becca Budd said she sees beyond the tragedy, too, and tries to be a positive force in her son’s life.
“What are we going to do moving forward? That’s all we can think about, is what are we going to do moving forward,” she said.
Jenkins suggests parents have open and honest conversations with their kids about drugs. Listen before lecturing, and provide factual information about their effects instead of what their kids may hear and see on social media.
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