By Ryan Hendricks
On July 3rd, 2008 Robert Scalia died of an accidental overdose of the prescription tranquilizer Alprazolam more commonly known as Xanax. At 11:15 am a frantic call was placed to the Atlantic Beach Fire and Rescue Squadron. The mother of Robert Scalia, Mrs. Kathy Scalia, reported finding her son comatose in his bedroom foaming at the mouth and gasping frantically for air. He was later rushed to St. John’s Hospital in Far Rockaway, New York where he was pronounced dead at 11: 45 am. Robert Scalia was only 19 years of age.
Robert was a former student at Lawrence Senior High School located in Cedarhurst, New York. During his many years at Lawrence he gained a reputation as a troubled child. He started out as a child who would frequently act out in class physically assaulting other children in school, as well as verbally abusing teachers. By the time of middle school he began to frequently cut class to do drugs. “All I could remember is all of us saying yeah this kid aint makin it to 20,” said a close friend. By the age of 14 Robert was already addicted to Cocaine and Marijuana. This caused his parents to send him to a rehabilitation program in rural Vermont. This program caused Robert to become sober for several months. “He was a really different person after that and seemed to be rather content and ready to get on with his life,” said Rebbeca Ingersoll, a close friend and neighbor. Two years later his brother Vincent would die during the occupation of Iraq; he began to enter a long depression, and this is when he became addicted to Xanax. During a Xanax binge an intoxicated Robert almost killed another student named David Brown in an automobile accident. David spent many weeks in a coma and in a hospital recovering thereafter; however Robert escaped with only minor injuries. After this incident Robert dropped out of high school to pursue other educational opportunities.
Robert, alone and by himself without the support of friends fell even further into addiction. “After he dropped out he spoke to very few of his friends, it was like he just dropped off the face of the earth,” said Jonathan Rothsburger. Robert during these years he was holding down a job as a dishwasher at The Lawrence Diner in Lawrence, New York. “I was convinced that he was just working there to buy drugs, he would get his check and go right to his dealer,” said a co-worker. Shortly before his death he quit his job washing dishes at The Lawrence Diner, and began to become dangerously addicted to drugs.
Robert was laid to rest on July 7, 2008 at Lawrence Funeral Chapel in Lawrence, New York. There was a somber tone to the room that night as we laid a friend to rest. Despite Robert’s carefree attitude no one deserves to die that early. Many people in the funeral chapel were crying and experiencing emotional anguish. “He was just too young, just far too young to perish like this,” said Rebecca Ingersoll. Hopefully future generations will learn the perils of drug addiction.