HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Grieving Dad Speaks Out
Pubdate: Sat, 15 May 2004
Source: East Valley Tribune (AZ)
Copyright: 2004 East Valley Tribune.
Author: Kim Smith, Tribune


Jillian Cleary had a tightknit family, tons of friends, an active church 
life and a gift for writing. All of those positives didn't stop her from 
trying methamphetamine, though, and they didn't stop her from dying. She 
was 15. On Thursday, the teen police believe gave Cleary and two of her 
friends the meth was arrested.

The 15-year-old, who is not being named by the Tribune because of his age, 
was arrested by Gilbert police on suspicion of sale of dangerous drugs and 
using minors in drug offenses, both felonies.

On Friday, Cleary's father, Walter Cleary, 46, of Phoenix spoke about his 
daughter, the arrest and teenage drug experimentation.

"Jill was a good daughter. We've been blessed in that we've never had 
children that we were really concerned about, but Jill was the one we were 
the least concerned about," Cleary said. "That night was the first time 
Jill had tried anything like that and she had ill effects."

On Feb. 27, Jillian, who lived with her mother in Chandler and attended 
Gilbert High School, went to a friend's house in Gilbert for a slumber 
party. Her mother believed there would be adult supervision, but there was not.

"The girls plotted to experiment with these drugs," Walter Cleary said. 
"They wanted to try them because they hadn't. I don't care how good your 
kid is, they are going to experiment. Eighty (percent) to 90 percent of 
kids are going to experiment with something, even if it's just a sip of beer."

Jillian Cleary got sick after taking the drug and vomited through the 
night, Walter Cleary said. She got a ride home from one of the girls' 
mothers the next morning.

When Jillian Cleary's mother, a nurse, got home from work at midnight, 
Jillian Cleary's lips were blue and she was taken to the hospital.

She died Feb. 29, leaving behind her parents and five siblings.

Jillian Cleary died because she inhaled her vomit, suffered a lack of 
oxygen and developed pneumonia, Walter Cleary said.

Apparently, the fear of getting in trouble prevented the kids from seeking 
assistance, Walter Cleary said.

"Not only did her friends not get her help, but she didn't get herself 
help," Walter Cleary said. "I don't think we're ever going to stop all 
(drug usage), but we need to educate kids that if they're having problems, 
they need to get help. If some of Jill's friends had gotten care for her, 
she would've lived."

The person who gave the girls the drugs is not the only one responsible for 
his daughter's death, he said.

"I hope the police go up the ladder and get the source of the drugs, 
because I honestly believe these were just kids being stupid."

According to court records, the boy is scheduled to appear in court 
Wednesday on unrelated charges. He is accused of threatening and 
intimidating a person at a Gilbert apartment complex on March 19.

About 350 people came to Jillian Cleary's funeral, many teenagers she had 
met at the two high schools she'd attended -- Paradise Valley College 
charter school in Phoenix and Gilbert High School, Walter Cleary said. 
Others were fellow members of the youth group at New Life Christian Church 
in Gilbert.

For the past year she had been developing her talent as a writer and 
photographer, Walter Cleary said.

"My faith (is getting me through this.) If I didn't think I would be 
reunited with my daughter again, this would be a lot harder to take," 
Walter Cleary said. "This life is short for all of us and it was way short 
for Jill." 
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