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July 31, 2014

Family of teen who died after smoking synthetic pot warns others to stay away from the powerful and unpredictable drug.

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Loved ones of 19-year-old Connor Eckhardt, from right, his mother Veronica Eckhardt, aunt Terri Mehrguth, sister Sabrina Eckhardt, 18, father Devin Eckhardt and close friend Jaclyn Westfall, 20, look on as a helicopter carrying Connor's heart flies off from Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach on Thursday. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / July 17, 2014)

By Emily Foxhall

July 26, 2014  |  8:02 p.m.

Veronica Eckhardt bent over the hospital bed, sponging paint onto the sole of her son’s left foot.

“Connor would not like what we’re doing,” she remarked, but his foot did not twitch.

Doctors had declared Connor Eckhardt brain-dead the day before, at age 19. Machines breathed for him in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at Hoag Hospital.

Veronica’s husband, Devin, held his son’s leg steady as she continued to apply a mixture of brown and blue, Connor’s favorite colors.

Their son’s decision to donate his organs had allowed the couple extra time at his bedside. Tests needed to be run. Appropriate organ recipients had to be identified.

On the day of his surgery, Veronica had been thinking of footprints they made when Connor was little. She wanted to make another set, so her mother and father-in-law went to buy supplies at Michaels. These painted prints would commemorate his end.

“Although his footprints will no longer be walking on the earth, his imprints will still be there in so many peoples’ lives,” she said.

The clock ticked past 2 p.m. Connor’s organs were scheduled to be removed in two hours.

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Synthetic drug is hard to trace

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