EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 30, 2013

Former Pinkerton student fondly remembered

Derry woman, 19, remembered as quiet, studious

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — DERRY — A 19-year-old Pinkerton Academy graduate was fondly remembered by her teachers yesterday as a quiet, bright young woman — not someone who would die of a drug overdose.

Members of the community remained in shock yesterday after the death early Wednesday of Brittany Flannigan, who graduated from Pinkerton in 2012.

Flannigan, remembered by two of her former teachers as a strong student with a pleasant personality, was pronounced dead later that morning at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

She and two other people, who did not know one another, suddenly fell ill while attending a concert at The House of Blues, a Boston nightclub. The other two — an unidentified 24-year-old woman and a man in his 20s — are recovering, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Wark said his office and Boston police are continuing to investigate the overdoses.

But a drug overdose is the last thing Pinkerton English teacher Joseph Dion and consumer sciences teacher Jennifer Brown thought could ever happen to their former student.

Both teachers fondly recalled Flannigan as an ideal student who would stay after class ended to chat and receive extra help.

“She was just incredibly pleasant,” Dion said. “We would just talk about things after class ended. She was very personable and communicated well with her peers.”

Dion said Flannigan had a great sense of humor.

She would often stay behind after class to seek help improving her writing, he said.

“She always took that advice and worked at it,” Dion said. “She worked very hard. She did really well academically.”

Dion said he lost track of Flannigan after she graduated. Flannigan went on to Plymouth State University, where the business management major would have started her sophomore year Tuesday, school spokesman Timothy Kershner said.

Brown said she occasionally saw Flannigan while making shopping trips to Hannaford grocery story in Londonderry, where the teen worked as a cashier. Flannigan would never hesitate to say hello, she said.

“She was just a real nice kid to have in class,” Brown said.

Flannigan was in her food and nutrition and advanced foods classes.

Brown said she was stunned to hear Flannigan died of a drug overdose.

She said she last Flannigan at Hannaford about two months ago.

Brown said some students talked about Flannigan in class yesterday.

“There was deep sadness from the students and disbelief,” she said. “Everybody is in shock.”

Pinkerton Dean of Students Glenn Ahrens said although most of the students who knew Flannigan have graduated, counseling was made available to those at the school who needed it.

Headmaster Mary Anderson issued a statement, calling the teen’s death “tragic and heartbreaking.”

“It is with great sorrow that I extend my deepest sympathies to Brittany’s family and friends,” Anderson said. “Brittany, you are in the hearts and prayers of the entire Pinkerton community.”

Kershner also released on a statement on Plymouth State’s behalf.

“Plymouth State University extends condolences to the family and friends of Brittany Flannigan,” the statement said. “Brittany was a familiar figure on campus and her presence will be missed by all who knew her and loved her.”

Flannigan grew up on Bedard Avenue in Derry, where neighbor Joshua Proctor, 33, said he has lived next door to the Flannigan family for 13 years.

Proctor said he didn’t know the family well, but noted, “They are good people.”

He remembered watching Flannigan and her two sisters play in their yard and come home from school every day. He said he’s about 10 years older than the oldest daughter.

“It’s shocking,” Proctor said. “They seemed to be very good girls. She seemed to be such a good girl. I watched them grow up.”

Although people could be heard inside the Flannigan home, no one answered the door yesterday afternoon. Derry police Capt. Vern Thomas said the family asked that reporters respect their privacy.

Other neighbors declined to comment.

“The family needs some space right now,” one man said.

A Facebook page was created yesterday in Flannigan’s memory. On the page, those who knew Flannigan were asked not to speak to the media.

Wark said authorities are still investigating the drug Flannigan and the two others took. All three had similar symptoms.

He would not confirm the drug was “Molly,” a potent form of Ecstacy. He did say the drug, which produces a strong euphoria, is more commonly found in other regions of the country, including the Midwest.

Wark said overdoses of the drug are not common on the East Coast.

Anyone with information about the overdoses is asked to call Boston police at (617) 343-4470 or the CrimeStoppers tip line at 1-800-494-TIPS or by texting the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).