MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - A young Midland mother died Wednesday after swallowing nearly four grams of crystal methamphetamine, officials said.
Sandy Brooke Franklin, 18, ingested the drugs Monday night in what appeared to be a "misguided attempt" to protect her boyfriend during a traffic stop, according to Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter.
Zane Paul O'Neal, 22, is the father of Franklin's 5-month-old son and is currently in federal custody. It's unclear what charges he will ultimately face.
"He admitted to [Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents] that he handed the methamphetamine to Franklin and she swallowed it," said Painter.
Officials declined to answer questions about whether or not O'Neal allegedly instructed, threatened or forced his girlfriend to ingest the bag of drugs when they were pulled over by Midland Police.
According to Franklin's family, O'Neal - who was on probation - told her to hide the narcotics by swallowing them and she obeyed to keep him out of jail.
"She died protecting her family," said Brittania Upchurch Arpe, Franklin's older sister. "She didn't want her son to lose his father and all because of a drug that is the devil."
O'Neal walked away from the traffic stop with no drug charges, officials said, but Franklin was taken into custody for two traffic warrants. She was booked into Midland County Jail on Monday around 10:30 p.m., according to a press release from the Sheriff's Office.
"She was asked if she had any narcotics, weapons, medical conditions or anything else to declare," Painter told NewsWest 9. "If she had just said something about the meth, we would have taken her to the hospital immediately. They could have pumped her stomach that night... We could have saved her."
Instead, Franklin silently served more than 36 hours behind bars with the bag of narcotics still in her stomach. By then, her body had already succumbed to the beginning stages of "severe meth poisoning," Painter said.
"A guard noticed that something was wrong with her on Wednesday morning, around 11:30," he explained. "She was shaking. Her eyes were unclear... [The guard] walked her to the medical department [of the jail] for treatment and the nurse immediately called for an ambulance to take her to the hospital."
Franklin finally admitted to swallowing a large amount of methamphetamine prior to her arrest, a claim that O'Neal later confirmed to officials while she was in the emergency room at Midland Memorial Hospital.
"It was too late," said Painter, who sat with Franklin's family in the waiting room and cried with them when doctors confirmed there was no hope. "If they had just told us earlier, we could have done something... My job is to take care of [inmates] and this is such a loss of feeling."