Midpeninsula Post

Flower memorial mourns passing of Los Altos High School student

A flower memorial for the late Los Altos High School senior on the morning of Monday, April 4. (Arya Nasikkar)

Editor’s note: Our administrative board extensively discussed what information to include in this story, and whether to publish it at all. We ultimately chose to publish both it and Brierly’s full name. It is our job as student journalists to provide factual reporting to the community, and it is our job as humans to raise awareness about local issues and connect our readers with the resources they may need. We decided that reporting Brierly’s full name, already widely circulated in the student body, was the only way to meet both of those needs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use or grief please refer to kara-grief.org or allcove.org. Los Altos High School will also offer grief support services in the tutorial center throughout the week.

A flower memorial at Los Altos High School today mourned the passing of senior Lauren Brierly.

The Mountain View Police Department is investigating her death as a potential fentanyl poisoning, though the official cause of death has not yet been confirmed. 

Students brought dozens of bouquets and candles to Brierly’s memorial, an impromptu arrangement of tables covered in blue plastic tablecloth by the library in the quad. A widely circulated Instagram story this weekend called for students to bring “anything that represents Lauren.”

A box of Oreos, plush toys, origami and a poster titled “Lauren Brierly 2004-2022” with photos of the late senior sat on the tables. 

A separate poster sat on a table, with personal messages for Brierly written in colored sharpie. A box of Kleenex sat beside it.

In a press release on Friday afternoon, the police department said it was sharing the information as part of an effort to prevent further tragedy.

“We do not know if other students may be in possession of narcotics, nor do we know how the student who died obtained the narcotics or from whom,” the department wrote. “We know that a family is grieving, that a school community is grieving, and that we have pulled in every available resource to try and bring justice to the student and their family.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid like morphine, but about 100 times more potent. As little as two milligrams of the substance — which can be mixed with other drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine — can be fatal.

Fentanyl overdoses are on the rise in Santa Clara County; Brierly’s death coincided with the announcement earlier in the day of a new county working group that will launch public outreach campaigns designed to reduce the number of local fentanyl overdoses.

A spokesperson for the Mountain View police on Sunday afternoon said the department had no additional information to share at the moment.

School officials posted grief support resources on flyers across campus, and canceled the scheduled diversity rally.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the student’s family, friends, and school community,” Los Altos High administration wrote in a Friday afternoon email. “Please know that you are encouraged to reach out at any time to a teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult on campus to talk – we are here to support you as you process this information.”

Naina Srivastava contributed to the reporting in this story.

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