An autopsy on the Cheverus High School senior who died days after having routine oral surgery last week did not reveal the cause of his death, and additional tests will be done, officials said Wednesday.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta examined the body of 18-year-old Benjamin LaMontagne on Monday. A spokesman for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the medical examiner, said further tests are needed to determine why the teenager died. It could be weeks before the results come back.
“There’s nothing to lead us to believe that there was any type of foul play,” said Cumberland County Sheriff’s Lt. Don Foss. The sheriff’s office is investigating the death to determine the cause, Foss said.
LaMontagne’s parents have said they believe their son died of complications from oral surgery he had Feb. 19 for impacted wisdom teeth. They have not identified the surgeon who did the procedure, or given details of their son’s health before the operation.
LaMontagne was a well-liked senior at Cheverus High who was planning to attend Gettysburg College in the fall to study bass clarinet. He was an active member of the Cheverus sailing team, and was known by friends and relatives as an independent, thoughtful teenager.
On Wednesday, emergency officials provided a more detailed time line of the response to the family’s 911 call early Saturday morning from their home on Stepping Stone Lane on Long Island. The town has a year-round community of about 230 residents, and is less than a mile from Portland in Casco Bay.
LaMontagne’s parents, Lynn and Peter LaMontagne, have repeatedly praised the response of the island’s volunteer first responders.
“The emergency response, we feel, appeared like magic,” Peter LaMontagne said Wednesday. “We recognized the challenges with providing emergency response on a rural Maine island.”
The first call to 911 came at 1:12 a.m. Saturday from Lynn Montagne. She told a 911 operator that her son had stopped breathing, according to a statement by the sheriff’s office.
Three days earlier, he had undergone surgery for impacted wisdom teeth. He initially had common post-operative symptoms of pain and swelling, which had intensified by Friday, his parents said.
Volunteer emergency personnel from Long Island were the first to arrive at the home, the parents said. Volunteer emergency workers from nearby Chebeague Island arrived later, said Long Island Fire Chief Richard Clarke.
By 1:29 a.m. Saturday, emergency medical technicians from the Portland Fire Department had been dispatched to the island, said Timothy Nangle, a spokesman for the department. While the EMTs were en route, dispatchers said an emergency worker who was at the home reported that LaMontagne was in cardiac arrest.
Portland EMTs and a sheriff’s deputy, whose department has jurisdiction over the island, arrived at the home at 2:12 a.m., Nangle and Foss said.
“(Long Island personnel) were doing CPR and making the best effort they could in a bad situation,” Nangle said.
The EMTs continued to provide medical treatment, according to the sheriff’s office and the Portland Fire Department.
Nangle would not provide the exact time of LaMontagne’s death, citing medical privacy laws. Clarke would not provide specific information about the time local emergency workers arrived, and later hung up on a reporter, saying the island community was grieving.
“It’s a pretty traumatic experience,” he said.
Dr. Eric Geist, president of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, said Tuesday that after wisdom tooth extractions, allergies to medication are a common source of adverse reactions, such as itching, rashes, hives or, in extreme cases of anaphylactic shock, swelling of the airway or rapid drops in heart rate or blood pressure.
Estimates of patients who have complications from wisdom tooth surgery that require hospitalization are low – about 2 or 3 per 100,000, said Dr. Thomas Dodson, professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at: